Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963893 | Print ISBN: 9781412958783 | Online ISBN: 9781412963893| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
THE PACIFIC OCEAN —named the “peaceful sea” by Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer leading a Spanish expedition—is the largest ocean in the world, covering 65.3 million sq. mi. (169.2 million sq. km.), encompassing 32 percent of the total surface of the Earth, and holding 46 percent of the Earth's water. Altogether, there are 25,000 islands in the Pacific, the vast majority south of the equator, which bisects the ocean. Global warming and climate change pose many real threats to the Pacific Ocean. The major focus of much attention around the world has been on the rising water levels, which is likely to inundate many of the low-lying Pacific Islands. Independent countries such as Fiji, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, and Tuvalu risk losing the vast majority of their land if the rising world temperature continues to raise the water level of the ocean. Atolls in French ...