Richardson, Philip L. Department of Physical Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
Dietrich, Gunter O. Formerly, Institute of Oceanography, University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany.
Last reviewed:October 2019
- Surface currents
- North Atlantic
- South Atlantic
- Ocean eddies
- Surface temperature, salinity, and density
- Deep circulation
- Bottom topography
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The large body of seawater separating the continents of North and South America in the west from Europe and Africa in the east and extending south from the Arctic Ocean to the continent of Antarctica. The Atlantic is the second-largest ocean water body, and in area it covers nearly one-fifth of the Earth's surface. It receives the freshwater runoff from a continental drainage area approximately four times larger than that draining into either the Pacific or Indian oceans. The two major divisions, North and South Atlantic oceans, have the Equator as the common boundary. The North Atlantic, because of projecting land areas and island arcs, has numerous subdivisions. These include three large mediterranean-type seas, the Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico plus Caribbean Sea, and the Arctic Ocean; two small mediterranean-type seas, the Baltic Sea and Hudson Bay; and four marginal seas, the North Sea, English Channel, Irish Sea, and Gulf of St. Lawrence. See also: Arctic Ocean; Baltic Sea; Equator; Gulf of Mexico
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