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Earth News Science

New Estimates Say Earth's Oceans Smaller Than Once Believed 263

Velcroman1 writes with this snippet from Fox News: "Using lead weights and depth sounders, scientists have made surprisingly accurate estimates of the ocean's depths in the past. Now, with satellites and radar, researchers have pinned down a more accurate answer to that age-old query: How deep is the ocean? And how big? As long ago as 1888, John Murray dangled lead weights from a rope off a ship to calculate the ocean's volume — the product of area and mean ocean depth. Using satellite data, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute set out to more accurately answer that question — and found out that it's 320 million cubic miles. And despite miles-deep abysses like the Mariana Trench, the ocean's mean depth is just 2.29 miles, thanks to the varied and bumpy ocean floor."
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New Estimates Say Earth's Oceans Smaller Than Once Believed

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  • by DamienNightbane ( 768702 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:46PM (#32271230)
    There are tons of places off the coasts that are far shallower with lots of oil. They couldn't drill in those spots because the government wouldn't let them, thus forcing them to drill in the more risky deep ocean wells where gas likes to freeze and make your rigs explode.
  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:47PM (#32271240)

    The point is that accurate information about the Earth's oceans would be more valuable, and we're spending that kind of money to image another planetrary body. I'm not in 100% agreement, but his argument is sound.

  • Re:I wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rm999 ( 775449 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:53PM (#32271324)

    Did you read the first sentence?
    "Using lead weights and *depth sounders*"

    That is what they used to do. But it only samples a tiny bit of the ocean and is biased towards certain parts of the ocean, like shipping channels. As the article says, the depth of the ocean is not very smooth, so non-global estimates won't be accurate.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:32PM (#32271880)
    Having lived their entire lives without seeing the ocean, two old women take a trip to the Pacific coast. Upon arriving on the beach, one looks out toward the horizon and says to the other, "That's funny, I thought it would be bigger."
  • Re:I estimate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:43PM (#32272714)

    Maybe FOX got it from a real news source, but I don't trust FOX.

    That just means you're being brainwashed by a different news sources. You shouldn't trust ANY of them.

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:56PM (#32272852) Journal
    Everyone knows that you are supposed to use miles for length and gallons for volume.

    It wouldn't be so much of a problem to deal with your backward measurements, except you have so many of them: Furlongs, inches, yards, feet, leagues, gauges, links, rods, chains, fathoms, hands, nails, and who knows how many more. Why even your "mile" comes in geographical, international, survey, telegraph, tactical, and three different nautical flavours (admiralty, international, and US). An ounce of gold is heavier than an ounce of feathers, but a pound of gold is lighter than a pound of feathers. It's insane!

    The really sad part of it all is that all your measurements are based on the metric standards anyways. So why not save your sanity and convert fully?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 20, 2010 @12:18AM (#32274742)

    The really sad part of it all is that all your measurements are based on the metric standards anyways. So why not save your sanity and convert fully?

    You are really clueless if you can't think of all the obstacles. MPH and how you measure your fat ass or assess the temperature are the least of the concerns. There are also matters of "hard" vs "soft" conversion. A "soft" conversion would be taking a standard unit wrench set (1/16" increments, e.g.) and numerically translating that to metric values. Easy and it can be done exactly and it is 100% compatible in both directions. It is also 100% fucking stupid as it creates a 3rd tool standard that is identical to an existing standard in all but name only. Buying a metric set of tools is easy. Many sets in the states will have both. What is difficult is all the associated hardware you must work with. At our small company, we retire a machine after - ohhhhh - maybe 20 to 30 years of work. So the machines we just bought that aren't 100% metric or are mixed are likely to be that way for decades. Consider other areas like building codes specifying 6" of insulation or 2x4s (~1.5" x ~3.5"). Again, we don't want "soft" conversions but rather the "hard" conversions that share an existing standard. Going metric would involve at least approving whatever the European equivalents would be. I hope nobody dies because of it! All our air water electrical conduit is in inches. I have never even seen pipe or conduit options in a metric size - that I recall. So very much of the imperial system is ingrained into everything we do.

    What would be nice is if the pro-metric crowd would address the tough issues, seek parity where equivalents can be used, and - lastly - realize that this is a 100 year project where the 'hearts and minds' are the last thing you need to worry about. You can sell people on simplicity but you need to make a good case for it. Lastly - and I always say this - if the pro metric crowd cared about standards, they would ditch the French language. The sooner it is dead, the better. We don't need it.

  • Re:I estimate (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mldi ( 1598123 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @10:09AM (#32278672)

    I don't trust any of them, but sometimes at least their sources check out. With Fox, there isn't even that decency.

    Do you do regular fact checks on them, CNN, MSNBC, etc, and compare? What's your source? Making a wild claim out of the blue never helps a cause (even if it's about Fox news).

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde