The world's oceans viewed from outer space.
Montage of the earth and the moon in one frame. Photo credit - Ramberg -

Oceans dominate our planet

We live on a precious planet three-quarters covered by oceans. They regulate Earth’s climate; create an immense, globally connected living space supporting remarkably diverse and exquisitely adapted life forms; and possess many of the planet’s most significant, intriguing, and inaccessible ecosystems. As the science writer Arthur C. Clarke noted: ‘How inappropriate to call this planet Earth, when clearly it is Ocean.’

Our oceans are central to human existence

Healthy oceans provide benefits essential for human well-being and survival. They produce half of the oxygen we breath; sustain ecosystems that protect our coasts; provide us with healthy food; host diverse organisms that furnish us with natural products for medicine and biotechnology; and support many forms of recreation and tourism.  Moreover, oceans enrich us spiritually, culturally and intellectually by nurturing our sense of wonder, scientific curiosity, and exploratory urges. In our fossil-fuelled civilization, the oceans play a crucial role in stabilizing our climate by absorbing most of the extra heat generated by human greenhouse gas emissions.  If this additional heat had all been stored in the Earth’s atmosphere instead of its oceans, average air temperatures would have increased by about 36°C instead of the 1.1°C increase so far.  Clearly, without this oceanic heat sink the human species would be extinct.

Yesterday’s Oceans

Yesterday's Oceans

Today’s Oceans

Today's Oceans

Tomorrow’s Oceans

The REMUS 600 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle on the deck of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.