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THE GLOBAL OCEAN influences the Earth's climate by storing and transporting vast amounts of heat, moisture, and carbon dioxide. Huge quantities of carbon are cycled annually among the biosphere (forests, grasslands, and marine plankton), the atmosphere, and the oceans. The oceans are the largest active reservoir of carbon, containing 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere. Of the 6 to 7 billion tons of carbon currently released into the atmosphere by human activities, approximately 3 billion tons remain in the atmosphere, 1 to 3 billion are absorbed by the oceans, and up to 2 billion appear to be absorbed by the terrestrial biosphere.

Oceanographers commonly refer to the oceanic region that surrounds the continent of Antarctica as the Southern Ocean. The northern boundary of the Southern ...

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