"Ocean Planet" Oceanographic Facts-The Smithsonian Institution

Article excerpt

* Ninety percent of all volcanic activity occurs in the oceans. In 1993, scientists located the largest known concentration of active volcanoes on the sea floor in the South Pacific. This area, the size of New York state, hosts 1,133 volcanic cones and sea mounts. Two or three could erupt at any moment.

* The highest tides in the world are at the Bay of Fundy, which separates New Brunswick from Nova Scotia. At some times of the year the difference between high and low tide is 53 feet 6 inches, the equivalent of a three-story building.

* The oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth's surface and contain 97 percent of the Earth's water. Less than 1 percent is fresh water, and 2-3 percent is contained in glaciers and ice caps.

* Earth's longest mountain range is the Mid-Ocean Ridge, which winds around the globe from the Arctic Ocean to the Atlantic, skirting Africa, Asia and Australia, and crossing the Pacific to the west coast of North America. It is four times longer than the Andes, Rockies, and Himalayas combined.

* Canada has the longest coastline of any country, at 56,453 miles or around 15 percent of the world's 372,384 miles of coastlines.

* A slow cascade of water beneath the Denmark Strait sinks 2.2 miles, more than 3.5 times farther than Venezuela's Angel Falls, the tallest waterfall on land.

* El Nino, a periodic shift of warm waters from the western to eastern Pacific Ocean, has dramatic effects on climate worldwide. In 1982-1983, the most severe El Nino of the century created droughts, crop failures, fires, torrential rains, floods, landslides--total damages were estimated at more than $8 billion. …