How Much Water Is There In Earth’s Oceans?

Estimates of Mean Ocean Depth Over Time (Matthew Charette WHOI/Walter Smith NOAA)

“If you want to know the water volume on the planet, you Google it and you get five different numbers, most of them 30- or 40-year-old values.”
— Matthew Charette, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

A new study by scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published last month in the journal Oceanography has significantly improved estimates of the total amount of water in the Earth’s oceans. Using satellite measurements, the researchers have determined that “the world’s total ocean volume is less than the most recent estimates by a volume equivalent to about five times the Gulf of Mexico, or 500 times the Great Lakes. While that might seem a lot at first glance, it is only about 0.3% lower than the estimates of thirty years ago.”

Calculating a mean oceanic depth of 3,682.2 meters (21 to 51 meters less than previous estimates) yields a total volume of water in the oceans in the vicinity of 1.332 billion cubic kilometers.

Want to learn more about the methods used or other details of the study? See this release from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Published in: on June 27, 2010 at 1:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

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