oceans ARE CONNECTED bodies of saline water that cover about three-quarters of the Earth and comprise more than 97 percent of the world's total water resources. Although continuous, the global ocean is divided into five oceans based on geographic location, geological barriers, and other criteria, into the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, and Southern oceans. Oceans have great influence on global weather patterns and climate. This influence stems from variations in ocean temperature caused chiefly by the movement of radi ant solar heat absorbed by the ocean's surface. Recently, atmospheric changes and resultant changes in chemical and physical attributes of the oceans, including temperature, salinity, and acidity have threatened the global ocean's stability. For example, sea level has been rising due to thermal expansion and melting of the world's ice. This retreat of ice causes further absorption of radiant energy from the Sun into the darker colored sea that might otherwise have been reflected by ice. This then creates a positive feedback in the warming of the atmosphere and further melting of ice. A warming atmosphere has been linked to changes in rainfall and storm frequency and length. Changes like these have the potential to cause the ocean to change dramatically over a relatively small span of time.
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