Magazine article Oceanus

How Deep Is the Ocean?

Magazine article Oceanus

How Deep Is the Ocean?

Article excerpt

   How much do I love you?
   I'll tell you no lie
   How deep is the ocean?
   How high is the sky?

--Irving Berlin

Scientists have a pretty good handle on how high the sky is. But they've had more trouble nailing the second part of Berlin's classic song.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Until now, a Google search to find out how deep the ocean is would have given you live different numbers, most of them 30 or 40 years old, said Matthew Charette, a marine chemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Reporting in the May 2010 issue of the journal Oceanography, Charette and Walter H.F. Smith, a geophysicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, calculated more precise numbers for the ocean's depth and volume. Using satellite measurements, the researchers said that the world's total ocean volume is 1.332 billion cubic kilometers--about 0.3 percent lower than the estimates of 30 years ago. That might not seem like a lot, but it's equivalent to about five times the water in the Gulf of Mexico, or 500 times the Great Lakes. …

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