The Pacific Ocean

By Archives •  Updated: 07/15/22 •  10 min read

The Pacific is the biggest and deepest of Earth’s five oceans. It goes from the Arctic Ocean in the north all the way to Antarctica at the bottom. It’s got land around it on every side, including Asia and Australia in the west and America across from it to our east.

The Pacific is the biggest and deepest of Earth’s five oceans. It goes from the Arctic Ocean in the north all the way to Antarctica at the bottom. It’s got land around it on every side, including Asia and Australia in the west and America across from it to our east.

The Pacific can be further divided by the equator into northern (North Pacific) and southern (South Pacific) regions. The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of the Earth’s oceanic divisions, covering an area of 165.2 million km2 (63.8 million sq mi).

To get an inkling of how vast this body of water is, it’s larger than Earth’s entire combined landmass and comprises 32% of Earth’s total surface area. Plus, only about 2.5% of the water on Earth is fresh water – the other 97.5% is saline.

Its mean depth is 13,000 feet, but Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, located in the western north Pacific, is the deepest point in the world, reaching a depth of 10,928 meters, or 35,853 feet. The Pacific also contains the deepest point in the Southern Hemisphere, the Horizon Deep in the Tonga Trench, at 35,509 feet). The third deepest point on Earth, the Sirena Deep, is also located in the Mariana Trench.

The Water Of The Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean located on globe map

Credit: CIA World Factbook

The volume of the Pacific Ocean, making up approximately 50.1 percent of the world’s oceanic water, has been estimated at some 714 million cubic kilometers (171 million cubic miles). The temperature of the water at the surface of the Pacific ocean can vary markedly, from −1.4 °C (29.5 °F), the freezing point of seawater, in the poleward areas to about 30 °C (86 °F) near the equator.

The motion of Pacific waters is generally clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere (the North Pacific gyre) and counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. The North Equatorial Current, driven westward along latitude 15°N by the trade winds, turns north near the Philippines to become the warm Japan or Kuroshio Current.

Salinity varies latitudinally. It reaches a maximum of 37 parts per thousand in the southeastern area. The water near the equator, which can have a salinity as low as 34 parts per thousand, is less salty than that found in the mid-latitudes because of abundant equatorial precipitation throughout the year.

The minimum counts of less than 32 parts per thousand are found in the far north as less evaporation of seawater takes place in these frigid areas.

Who Named the Pacific Ocean?

The eastern Pacific ocean was first sighted by Europeans in the early 16th century when Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1513 and discovered the great “Southern Sea” which he named Mar del Sur.

The Pacific gets its modern-day name from the Latin Mare Pacificum, “peaceful sea”, which the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan dubbed it. Magellan and his crew we