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Facts about the Atlantic Ocean for kids and adults

Atlantic Ocean is the sea lying between Europe and Africa in the east, and the Americas in the west. It is the second largest body of water in the world, after the Pacific Ocean, and covers about a sixth of the Earth's surface (see Oceans). It has an area of 31,530,000 square miles, and an average depth of more than 6,000 feet. The Equator divides the ocean into the North and South Atlantic. It was named Atlantic after the Atlas mountains in north-western Africa. The ocean lay beyond the mountains and was alleged to surround a legendary continent or island called Atlantis.

Although the Atlantic has eastern and western boundaries, it has no definite northern and southern limits, because it merges with the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans, respectively. Measured from the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic Circle, the Atlantic is about 9,000 miles long. At its widest point, it is 5,000 miles across.

 The volume of the Atlantic Ocean is 323.600.000 cubic kilometers; the volume of Atlantic Ocean with seas is 354.700.000 cubic kilometers (1 cubic kilometers = 0,24 cubic mile).

Map of ocean depth - facts about Atlantic Ocean for kids A rocky beach - facts about Atlantic Ocean for kids

Facts about the Atlantic Ocean for kids and adults

The Atlantic Ocean covers one-sixth of the Earth's surface. Its greatest width is about 5,000 miles, but between Brazil and the coast of Africa it narrows to some 1,700 miles. The most prominent feature is the great Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a submarine ridge which runs down the center of the Atlantic and occasionally rises above the sea to form islands. The North Atlantic is the greatest ocean highway in the world

A rocky beach on the coast of the Canadian province of Newfoundland, one of the Atlantic's important islands

A number of important islands lie in the Atlantic. Among these are the British Isles, Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland, the West Indies, the Azores, the Canary Islands and the Cape Verde Islands. Large, open coastal waters lead off both sides of the Atlantic. These include the Gulf of Guinea, the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea on the eastern side; and Hudson Bay, the Gulf of St Lawrence, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea on the western side. Major semi-enclosed seas in the east include the Mediterranean and the Baltic.

The bottom of the Atlantic is divided into two deep valleys either side of a twisted ridge, the mid-Atlantic Ridge, that runs from north to south down the middle of the ocean. It lies at an average depth of about 10,000 feet below the water's surface, but occasionally juts above the surface in the form of islands, such as Iceland, the Azores and Tristan da Cunha.

There are a number of strong currents in the Atlantic. Perhaps the best known of these is the Gulf Stream. This current carries warm water across the North Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico northeastwards towards the coasts of Europe. It keeps western Europe comparatively warm and ice-free in the winter months. The Labrador Current, on the other hand, brings icy water from the Arctic down the eastern coasts of North America, and sometimes carries icebergs that are a danger to shipping.

There are several parts of Atlantic coastal waters that are particularly rich in fish. Such places are the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, and the Dogger Bank in the North Sea. Large quantities of cod, halibut and herring are caught in the Atlantic Ocean.

Atlantic Ocean water temperature in the ocean deeps is always near freezing point, but at the surface it varies from about 80° F in the tropics to 28° F near the Arctic and Antarctic circles.

More information about the Atlantic Ocean, the volume of the Atlantic Ocean, water temperature, ocean depth etc. you can find at this page

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