National Geographic announced that it is officially recognizing the body of water surrounding the Antarctic as the Earth's fifth ocean: the Southern Ocean.
The change marks the first time in over a century that the organization has redrawn the world's oceanic maps, which have historically only included four: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic Oceans.
The Southern Ocean has long been recognized by scientists, but because there was never agreement internationally. The Southern Ocean stretches from Antarctica's coastline to 60 degrees south latitude, excluding the Drake Passage and the Scotia Sea, according to the National Geographic.
The newest body of water makes it the second-smallest, after the Arctic. The waters encircling the southern continent have distinct ecological characteristics, including its unique current patterns better known as the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, or ACC, according to the magazine. The ACC makes the waters around Antarctica colder and slightly less salty than those in the north, which helps transport heat around the world and store carbon in the deep ocean all of which have a crucial impact on the planet, National Geographic reported.