The waters surrounding Antarctica have special features sufficient to distinguish them into the fifth, Southern Ocean. Guided by this, the National Geographic Society of the United States decided, starting June 8, to officially recognize and mark on the maps a new object with borders at 60th parallel south. However, so far there are no international agreements on this topic. Does humanity need the Southern Ocean? How does domestic science relate to its allocation? These questions were answered by Deputy Chairman of the Academic Council of the Russian Geographical Society, Dean of the Faculty of Geography of Lomonosov Moscow State University, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Sergey Dobrolyubov and Head of Research at the department of Ecology of Seas and Oceans of Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Mikhail Flint.
"In our country, the Hydrographic Department of the Navy is responsible for this. It is in charge of sheet divisions and everything else. There is a hydrographic agency in Monaco. And most countries in the world recognize the Southern Ocean. Its border usually runs along 60th parallel in accordance with the Antarctic Treaty. However the Southern Ocean is not needed like this. If it was located, as it was once drawn on maps, between the southern ends of Cape Horn in America, Cape Agulhas in Africa, Tasmania and so on, then it would be at least some geographically defined object. In my opinion, as an oceanologist, it certainly exists. But the Hydrographic Service of the Navy does not agree with this. We will have to re-publish the existing sheet divisions of a certain name for each square. In the world, the northern border of the Southern Ocean has not yet been properly defined. It needs to be determined worldwide so that it is oceanographically definite. I think that after all, the southern end of the continents should be used."
“If not formally, then in reality it has already been done a long time ago. Even in terminology – the Southern Ocean. Here I have an amazing book on my table, in which the first reasonable predictions of krill productivity are made. This book was published by “Nauka” publishing house, and translated, as far as I know, abroad. Its name is “Pelagic Ecosystems of the Southern Ocean”.
- It turns out that the issue of allocating the Southern Ocean has already been raised. Is it resolved or needs approval?
"Yes, and in our country it has not been agreed upon. Generally speaking, we must ask the military hydrographers. They are responsible for this. From a scientific point of view, the Southern Ocean must be defined. And all countries must agree with this."
"Yes, it was raised. But how was it resolved? After all, for geography this is a delicate matter. The name needs to be agreed upon. This is the legal side of the matter. However, de facto and in different fields of science – hydrophysical, the science of ecosystems – the Southern Ocean has existed for a long time. Now, there is a large program for the study of ecosystems in the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean under the patronage of Russian President Vladimir Putin, which protects the interests of Russia in krill fishing. Very often, we write there – the Southern Atlantic or the Southern Ocean."