The Fram Strait is the passage between Greenland and Svalbard, located roughly between 77°N and 81°N latitudes and centered on the prime meridian. The Greenland and Norwegian Seas lie south of Fram Strait, while the Nansen Basin of the Arctic Ocean lies to the north. Fram Strait is noted for being the only deep connection between the Arctic Ocean and the World Oceans. The dominant oceanographic features of the region are the West Spitsbergen Current on the east side of the strait and the East Greenland Current on the west.
Fram Strait is the northernmost ocean area having ice-free conditions throughout the year. The width of the strait is about 450 km, but because of the wide continental shelves of Greenland and Spitsbergen, the deep portion of Fram Strait is only about 300 km wide. The ocean over the Greenland continental shelf is often covered with ice.
Within Fram Strait, the sill connecting the Arctic and Fram Strait is 2545 m deep. The Knipovich Ridge, the northernmost section of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, extends northward through the strait to connect to the Nansen-Gakkel Ridge of the Arctic Ocean. A rift valley, caused by sea-floor spreading, runs adjacent and parallel to the Knipovich Ridge. The Molloy Deep within Fram Strait is the deepest point of the Arctic. This small basin at 79°8.5′N and 2°47′E has a maximum depth of 5,550 m (18,210 ft) ±14 m (46 ft)(See also: Litke Deep). The Yermak Plateau, with a mean depth of about 650 m, lies to the northwest of Spitsbergen.
Historically, Fram Strait was home to a large population of Bowhead whales, then called the Greenland right whale. By mid-17th century, the Svalbard population of Bowhead whales was reduced to near extinction by excessive whaling (See also: Whaling in Spitsbergen; Smeerenburg). Western Fram Strait may be a wintering ground for this Critically Endangered population.
The use of the name "Fram Strait" for the passage between Spitsbergen and Greenland appears to have come into common use in the oceanographic literature in the 1970s. Fram Strait is named after the Norwegian ship Fram. In an 1893 expedition led by Fridtjof Nansen, the Fram drifted for two years across the Arctic before exiting the Arctic through what is now known as Fram Strait. According to glaciologist and geographer Moira Dunbar, an early adopter of the name, the name "Fram Strait" originated in the Russian scientific literature. While in common use, particularly in the oceanographic scientific literature, the name appears to be unofficial.
Fram Strait is the only deep-water connection between the World Oceans and the Arctic. Other gateways are the Barents Sea Opening (BSO), the Bering Strait and various small channels in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. They are all shallower than Fram Strait, leaving Fram Strait the only route by which deep water can be exchanged between the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. This exchange occurs in both directions, with specific water masses identified with specific regions flowing between the Oceans. Water with characteristics of the deep Canadian and Eurasian Basins of the Arctic are observed leaving the Arctic in the deep western side of Fram Strait, for example. On the eastern side, cold water from the Norwegian Sea is observed entering the Arctic below the West Spitsbergen Current. In recent years the nature and interactions of these water masses have been changing, symptoms of the changes occurring with the ocean's climate.
Warm, salty water is transported northward from the Atlantic by the West Spitsbergen Current in the east of the strait. The West Spitsbergen Current is the northernmost branch of the North Atlantic Current system. This water forms a water mass called the Atlantic water. The sub-surface flow has a strong seasonality with a minimal volume transport in winter. This current transports internal energy into the Arctic Ocean . The northward velocity is maximum in winter, so the heat transport is highest in winter.
On the west side of the strait, the East Greenland Current flows southward on the Greenland Shelf. The current carries is relatively cold and fresh water out of the Arctic that corresponds to a water mass called Polar water.
The Fram Strait area is located downwind of the Transpolar Drift and therefore covered by multi-year ice in the west of the strait, next to the coast of Greenland. Approximately 90% of sea ice exported from the Arctic is transported by the East Greenland Current. (Sea ice essentially corresponds to fresh water, since its salt content of 4 per mil is much less than the 35 per mil for sea water.) A 2019 estimate states that about "80% of the water exchanged between the Arctic ice cap and the world’s oceans passes through the Fram Strait."
The Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) have maintained long term monitoring measurements in Fram Strait to obtain volume- and energy-budgets through this choke point. The observations also serve to assess the development of the Arctic Ocean as a sink for terrestrial organic carbon. The AWI=NPI observing array consists of a line of up to 16 moorings across Fram Strait. The mooring line has been maintained since 1997 with a spacing of roughly 25 km. At up to five different depths, the moored array measures the water velocity, temperature, and salinity of the water column.
Computer simulations suggest that 60 to 70% of the fluctuation of the sea ice flowing through the Fram Strait is correlated with a 6–7 year fluctuation in which the Icelandic Low Pressure system extends eastward into the Barents Sea. The amount of sea ice passing through the Fram Strait varies from year to year and affects the global climate through its influence on thermohaline circulation. The warming in the Fram Strait region has likely amplified Arctic shrinkage, and serves as a positive feedback mechanism for transporting more internal energy to the Arctic Ocean.
The Amerasia Basin, or Amerasian Basin, is one of the two major basins from which the Arctic Ocean can be subdivided (the other one being the Eurasian Basin). The triangular-shaped Amerasia Basin broadly extends from the Canadian Arctic Islands to the East Siberian Sea, and from Alaska to the Lomonosov Ridge. The basin can be further subdivided based on bathymetric features; these include the Canada Basin, the Makarov Basin, the Podvodnikov Basin, the Alpha-Mendeleev Ridge, and the Chukchi Plateau.
The Amerasia Basin is connected to the Pacific Ocean via the Bering Strait and to the North Atlantic Ocean via the Eurasia Basin and the Fram Strait. The continental shelf around the Amerasia Basin is very broad, averaging up to 342 mi (550 km) in width. The average depth of the Amerasia Basin is 12,960 ft (3,950 m), and it covers 2,500,000 km2 (970,000 sq mi).
The Canada Basin (with a maximum depth of 4,000 m (13,000 ft)) is underlain by oceanic crust at its centre, as well as extended continental crust and transitional-type crust around its margins. The Makarov and Podvodnikov basins, may include oceanic crust, though have also been suggested to be highly extended continental crust or intruded by volcanics. The Alpha and Mendeleev ridges (also collectively referred to as the Alpha-Mendeleev Ridge) are considered to be predominantly volcanic in origin, possibly with a component of extended continental crust underneath. The Chukchi Plateau is made of continental crust.Many scenarios have been proposed for the opening of the Amerasia Basin. The most popular, the "windshield wiper" model, proposes that the Arctic Alaska-Chukotka terrane (AAC) was rotated in a counter-clockwise motion, away from the Canadian Arctic Islands during the Late Jurassic–Cretaceous in one or several stages. Its opening was at the expense of an extinct ocean called the South Anuyi Ocean. It is possible that the windshield model can explain the opening of the Canada Basin, but that a more complex pattern of events is required to explain the structure of the Amerasia Basin as a whole.The Alpha–Mendeleev Ridge forms part of the Cretaceous High Arctic Large Igneous Province (HALIP) which includes volcanic features offshore and onshore around the Arctic. An associated Early Cretaceous dyke swarm covering at least 350 km × 800 km (220 mi × 500 mi) has also been discovered. HALIP formation is related to the arrival of a mantle plume, possibly centered on the southern end of the Alpha Ridge. The plume arrival may have resulted in a regional plate reorganization event, including the opening of the Amerasia Basin and the rotation of the AAC.Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceans. The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) recognizes it as an ocean, although some oceanographers call it the Arctic Sea. It is classified as an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean, and it is also seen as the northernmost part of the all-encompassing World Ocean.
Located mostly in the Arctic north polar region in the middle of the Northern Hemisphere, besides its surrounding waters the Arctic Ocean is surrounded by Eurasia and North America. It is partly covered by sea ice throughout the year and almost completely in winter. The Arctic Ocean's surface temperature and salinity vary seasonally as the ice cover melts and freezes; its salinity is the lowest on average of the five major oceans, due to low evaporation, heavy fresh water inflow from rivers and streams, and limited connection and outflow to surrounding oceanic waters with higher salinities. The summer shrinking of the ice has been quoted at 50%. The US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) uses satellite data to provide a daily record of Arctic sea ice cover and the rate of melting compared to an average period and specific past years.Arctic dipole anomaly
The Arctic dipole anomaly is a pressure pattern characterized by high pressure on the arctic regions of North America and low pressure on those of Eurasia. This pattern sometimes replaces the Arctic oscillation and the North Atlantic oscillation. It was observed for the first time in the first decade of 2000s and is perhaps linked to recent climate change. The Arctic dipole lets more southern winds into the Arctic Ocean resulting in more ice melting. The summer 2007 event played an important role in the record low sea ice extent which was recorded in September. The Arctic dipole has also been linked to changes in arctic circulation patterns that cause drier winters in Northern Europe, but much wetter winters in Southern Europe and colder winters in East Asia, Europe and the eastern half of North America.Barents Sea Opening
The Barents Sea Opening (BSO) is an oceanographic term for the Western Barents Sea, the sea area between Bear Island in the south of Svalbard and the northern extremity of Norway through which a water mass of Atlantic origin flows into the Arctic Ocean. The inflow of relative warm water into the Arctic Ocean occurs not only through the Barents Sea Opening, but also through Fram Strait which is much deeper. The internal energy entering the colder waters has an influence on the atmosphere and the sea ice above and therefore possibly on the global climate.Boreas Plain
The Boreas Plain is an abyssal plain in the South of Fram Strait with water depths of around 3 km at 78°N 0°E.East Greenland Current
The East Greenland Current (EGC) is a cold, low salinity current that extends from Fram Strait (~80N) to Cape Farewell (~60N). The current is located off the eastern coast of Greenland along the Greenland continental margin. The current cuts through the Nordic Seas (the Greenland and Norwegian Seas) and through the Denmark Strait. The current is of major importance because it directly connects the Arctic to the Northern Atlantic, it is a major contributor to sea ice export out of the Arctic, and it is a major freshwater sink for the Arctic.Eurasian Basin
The Eurasia Basin, or Eurasian Basin, is one of the two major basins into which the Arctic Basin of the Arctic Ocean is split by the Lomonosov Ridge (other being the Amerasia Basin). The Eurasia Basin may be seen as an extension of the North Atlantic Basin through Fram Strait. It is further split by the mid-ocean Gakkel Ridge into the Nansen Basin and the Amundsen Basin. The latter basin is the deepest one of the Arctic Ocean and the geographic North Pole is located there.
The Eurasia Basin is bounded by Greenland, the Lomonosov Ridge, and the shelves of the Laptev Sea, Kara Sea and Barents Sea. The maximum depth within the Eurasia Basin is reached at the Litke Deep with 5449 m depth.Today, the Gakkel Ridge is the site of some of the slowest seafloor spreading on the Earth, with 10 mm/yr near the Fram Strait and 6 mm/yr near the Laptev Sea. Initial opening of the Eurasia Basin is constrained by magnetic anomaly and geologic information to the Cenozoic: it was first created about 53 Million years ago by the spreading of the sea floor.Greenland Sea
The Greenland Sea is a body of water that borders Greenland to the west, the Svalbard archipelago to the east, Fram Strait and the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Norwegian Sea and Iceland to the south. The Greenland Sea is often defined as part of the Arctic Ocean, sometimes as part of the Atlantic Ocean. However, definitions of the Arctic Ocean and its seas tend to be imprecise or arbitrary. In general usage the term "Arctic Ocean" would exclude the Greenland Sea. In oceanographic studies the Greenland Sea is considered part of the Nordic Seas, along with the Norwegian Sea. The Nordic Seas are the main connection between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans and, as such, could be of great significance in a possible shutdown of thermohaline circulation. In oceanography the Arctic Ocean and Nordic Seas are often referred to collectively as the "Arctic Mediterranean Sea", a marginal sea of the Atlantic.The sea has Arctic climate with regular northern winds and temperatures rarely rising above 0 °C (32 °F). It previously contained the Odden ice tongue (or Odden) area, which extended eastward from the main East Greenland ice edge in the vicinity of 72–74°N during the winter and acted as a key winter ice formation area in the Arctic. The West Ice forms in winter in the Greenland Sea, north of Iceland, between Greenland and Jan Mayen island. It is a major breeding ground of harp seal and hooded seal that has been used for seal hunting for more than 200 years.Guyot
In marine geology, a guyot (pronounced ), also known as a tablemount, is an isolated underwater volcanic mountain (seamount) with a flat top more than 200 m (660 ft) below the surface of the sea. The diameters of these flat summits can exceed 10 km (6.2 mi). Guyots are most commonly found in the Pacific Ocean, but they have been identified in all the oceans except the Arctic Ocean.Lincoln Sea
Lincoln Sea (French: Mer de Lincoln; Danish: Lincolnhavet) is a body of water in the Arctic Ocean, stretching from Cape Columbia, Canada, in the west to Cape Morris Jesup, Greenland, in the east. The northern limit is defined as the great circle line between those two headlands. It is covered with sea ice throughout the year, the thickest sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, which can be up to 15 m (49 ft) thick. Water depths range from 100 m (330 ft) to 300 m (980 ft). Water and ice from Lincoln Sea empty into Robeson Channel, the northernmost part of Nares Strait, most of the time.
The sea was named after Robert Todd Lincoln, then United States Secretary of War, on Adolphus W. Greely's 1881–1884 Arctic expedition into Lady Franklin Bay.Alert, the northernmost station of Canada, is the only populated place on the shore of Lincoln Sea.
The body of water to the east of Lincoln Sea (east of Cape Morris Jesup) is the Wandel Sea.Molloy Deep
The Molloy Deep is a bathymetric feature at 79°8′30″N 2°47′0″E in the Greenland Sea, 160 km from Svalbard. It is the deepest point of Fram Strait and prior to August 2019 was thought to be 5,669 m (18,599 ft) deep.Mooring (oceanography)
A mooring in oceanography is a collection of devices connected to a wire and anchored on the sea floor. It is the Eulerian way of measuring ocean currents, since a mooring is stationary at a fixed location. In contrast to that, the Lagrangian way measures the motion of an oceanographic drifter, the Lagrangian drifter.Nordic Seas
The Nordic Seas are located north of Iceland and south of Svalbard. They have also been defined as the region located north of the Greenland-Scotland Ridge and south of the Fram Strait-Spitsbergen-Norway intersection. Known to connect the North Pacific and the North Atlantic waters, this region is also known as having some of the densest waters, creating the densest region found in the North Atlantic Deep Water. The deepest waters of the Arctic Ocean are connected to the worlds other oceans through Nordic Seas and Fram Strait. There are three seas within the Nordic Sea: Greenland Sea, Norwegian Sea, and Iceland Sea. The Nordic Seas only make up about 0.75% of the World’s Oceans. This region is known as having diverse features in such a small topographic area, such as the mid oceanic ridge systems. Some locations have shallow shelves, while others have deep slopes and basins. This region, because of the atmosphere-ocean transfer of energy and gases, has varying seasonal climate. During the winter, sea ice is formed in the western and northern regions of the Nordic Seas, whereas during the summer months, the majority of the region remains free of ice.
Several water masses are found interacting in the Nordic Sea. These water masses are present due to subduction, deep convective mixing, surface/frontal mixing, and entrainment of water from low and high latitudes. Interaction from multiple water sources can lead to varying conditions. New primary production is higher in this region, usually exceeding regenerated primary production. New production is higher in regions where water interacts with Atlantic Water, which has nutrient-rich waters. When looking at carbon flux from the atmosphere to the ocean, this region is considered one of the highest in the world’s oceans. This region is also known as being one of the few bodies of water that take up large quantities of carbon dioxide yearly, ranging from 20-85 g C m−2y−1, which is considered high in comparison the carbon dioxide flux in the world’s oceans.
The Nordic Seas include the Greenland Sea, the Norwegian Sea, and the Iceland Sea. The Greenland and the Norwegian Sea are separately distinguished by Mohn’s Ridge. The Greenland and Iceland Sea are separated by the Jan Mayen fracture zone, and the Norwegian and Iceland Seas have the Aegir Ridge between them. The Nordic Seas have varying and diverse features as a result of each sea having separate water mass structures and circulation patterns. The Greenland Sea produces dense waters because of its high salinity and cooler temperatures from winter cooling. Higher salinity is present as a result of the Greenland Sea’s close proximity to the salinity inflow that occurs from the Atlantic Ocean. Another dense water source comes from the Arctic waters that also flow into the Greenland Sea. These water source mixtures are important because they play a role in the overflows that occur in the North Atlantic. The water that overflows from the Greenland ridge becomes the North Atlantic Deep Water dense water, even though this body of water does not make up the deep waters of the Nordic Sea.North Pole-37
North Pole-37 (Russian: Северный полюс-37, СП-37) was the 37th Russian manned drifting station, primarily used for polar research.
The station was established with the nuclear icebreaker NS Yamal in the Arctic ocean at the beginning of September 2009. The chief of high-latitude arctic expeditions Vladimir Sokolov supervised the research activity of the station.On 6 June 2010 the station was closed down early because the floe the station was established on started drifting towards Canadian shores rather than in the direction of Fram Strait as planned. During the period of its operation, the station covered a distance of approximately 2,000 km (1,200 mi).Rotor current meter
A rotor current meter (RCM) is a mechanical current meter, an oceanographic device deployed within an oceanographic mooring measuring the flow within the world oceans to learn more about ocean currents. Many RCMs have been replaced by instruments measuring the flow by hydroacoustics, the so-called Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers. However, for instance in Fram Strait, the Alfred Wegener Institute still uses RCMs for long-term monitoring the inflow into the Arctic Ocean.Transpolar Drift Stream
The Transpolar Drift Stream is a major ocean current of the Arctic Ocean, transporting sea ice from the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea towards Fram Strait. Drift experiments with ships like Fram or Tara showed that the drift takes between two and four years.
In 1937, Pyotr Shirshov at the Soviet drift ice station North Pole-1 described this drift. The stream conveys water in roughly two major routes to the northern Atlantic Ocean at a rate of about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) per day. Primarily wind-driven, it flows roughly from the northern coast of Russia and Alaska, sometimes curving toward the Beaufort Sea before exiting to the Atlantic Ocean. It has been cited as a major factor in the North Atlantic Oscillation and Arctic oscillation atmospheric changes. The drift typically takes one of two paths before exiting into the northern Atlantic Ocean.
On decadal and longer timescales, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Arctic Oscillation (AO) indices affect the flow pattern of the transpolar drift stream. During times of positive NAO (NAO+) and positive AO (AO+), there is a weak Arctic high and the associated surface winds produce a cyclonic (anti-clockwise) ice drift motion in eastern Arctic Ocean. In this case, the drift flows from the Laptev Sea towards the Beaufort Sea before exiting the Arctic Ocean through the Fram Strait. Conversely, during periods of NAO- and AO-, there is a strong Arctic high and ice motion flows in an anticyclonic (clockwise) motion in the Eurasian Basin. In this phase, the drift flows directly from the Laptev Sea through the Fram Strait.Wandel Sea
The Wandel Sea (Danish: Wandelhavet also known as McKinley Sea) is a body of water in the Arctic Ocean, stretching from northeast of Greenland to Svalbard. It is obstructed by ice most of the year.
This sea is named after Danish polar explorer and hydrographer, Vice Admiral Carl Frederick Wandel, who in years 1895–96 explored the coastal waters of Greenland as part of the Danish Ingolf Expedition.West Spitsbergen Current
The West Spitsbergen Current (WSC) is a warm, salty current that runs poleward just west of Spitsbergen, (formerly called West Spitsbergen), in the Arctic Ocean. The WSC branches off the Norwegian Atlantic Current in the Norwegian Sea. The WSC is of importance because it drives warm and salty Atlantic Water into the interior Arctic. The warm and salty WSC flows north through the eastern side of Fram Strait, while the East Greenland Current (EGC) flows south through the western side of Fram Strait. The EGC is characterized by being very cold and low in salinity, but above all else it is a major exporter of Arctic sea ice. Thus, the EGC combined with the warm WSC makes the Fram Strait the northernmost ocean area having ice-free conditions throughout the year in all of the global ocean.Whalers Bay (Svalbard)
Whaler's Bay is a bay in Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean.
The former whaling grounds to the north of Nordaustlandet (roughly 81°N 10°E), the second largest island of the Svalbard archipelago are called Whaler's Bay and the bowhead whale has been abundant in this region.
The West Spitsbergen Current (WSC) transports salt and internal energy through Fram Strait into Whaler's bay. Oceanographic field-studies suggest that the waters on the surface are mainly influenced by atmospheric cooling. Other studies claim that the warm temperature correlates with the sea ice extent in this area.