Daily Current Affairs for UPSC

Understanding Indian Ocean

Syllabus: Geography [GS Paper-1]


The Indian Ocean is one of the three major oceans on Earth, covering around 20% of the planet’s water surface. It is the third-largest body of water in the world, and its name comes from the fact that it is bordered by Southern Asia, which includes the Indian subcontinent, on the north . The Indian Ocean plays a vital role in the Earth’s ecosystem, and understanding it can reveal a lot about our planet.

Home to the Deadliest Storms

The Indian Ocean is characterized by monsoons that are characterized by strong winds and plenty of rain in the Indian subcontinent. From the Time immemorial, the winds and the rain have been inspiring prose and poetry . Compared to the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans, the North India Ocean cyclone count is relatively low but the absolute number and their velocity of development are on the rise alarmingly. The African Americans prospecting rim of South Asia, East Africa, and West Asia are sitting ducks in their path. As indicated above, cyclones tend to be the deadliest storms by mortality.

A Unique Configuration

  • The northern shore of the Indian Ocean is almost completely bordered by land of Asia besides for the tiny openings to the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. 
  • The southern Indian Ocean also significantly differs from the other oceans through two tunnels connecting it to the Pacific and the Southern Oceans . 
  • Though the Indian Ocean has underwater tunnels which connect to the Pacific Ocean, it is still a warm bathtub because it has warm water that flows from the Pacific through an atmospheric bridge.

The Little Ocean That Could

  • The Indian Ocean is a warm bathtub because it is closely tied to the Pacific Ocean through what is called an atmospheric bridge even with the underwater tunnels. 
  • The circulation of the air, primarily the region around the huge centre of precipitation over the Maritime Continent, entails mostly subsiding air over the Indian Ocean. 
  • The atmosphere also heats up the Indian ocean for the next year in sequence. 
  • The Indian ocean thus shirks heat which must be offloaded through the waters that move south

A Hand in Human Evolution

The reconfiguration of the Indian Ocean may have played a role in the evolution of our ancestors as well. Until about three million years ago, Australia and New Guinea were well south of the equator and the Indian Ocean was directly connected to the Pacific Ocean s. And this Indo-Pacific Ocean was in a warm state known as a ‘permanent El Niño’ — a state that was associated with permanently plentiful rain and lush green forests over East Africa. Today, this part of Africa is arid.


The Indian Ocean is a vital part of our planet’s ecosystem, and understanding it can reveal a lot about our planet. Its unique configuration, warm temperature, and role in human evolution make it a fascinating subject to study. 

Source: The Hindu

UPSC Mains Practice Question

Q. The Indian Ocean is a significant arena for geopolitical and economic activities in the 21st century. Analyze the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean for India, considering its security, trade, and diplomatic interests. How should India address the challenges and opportunities presented by the growing presence of other global powers in the region?

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