Powerful and beautiful, the Earth's oceans cover just over 361 million square kilometers, or almost 70 percent of the Earth's surface. They are one of the last frontiers of exploration on the planet. Since its inception, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has supported critical initiatives to learn about the world's oceans. Pictured here, a marine technician steps aside as waves rush into the Baltic Room of NSF's Nathaniel B. Palmer during a cruise through the often stormy Southern Ocean's Drake Passage. The Southern Ocean accounts for half the ocean's uptake of carbon from the atmosphere and the majority of the heat uptake, despite comprising only 30 percent of the world's ocean area. Studies of the Southern Ocean will allow scientists to assess this ocean's impact on the Earth's biosphere and climate.
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