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Die Labrador See

The sea is covered with floating pack ice and icebergs for eight months of the year. (Photo: SeaWIFS, May 1999)

The Labrador Sea is an arm of the northern Atlantic Ocean between eastern Canada and southwest Greenland. However, it is (not officially) recognized as a separate body of water in terms of hydrography. The southern boundary is a line from the southern tip of Greenland to Cape St. Charles on the eastern coast of Labrador, and the northern boundary is the 66 degree northern latitude line that joins Greenland and Baffin Island north of the Arctic Circle.


Via Hudson Strait, the Labrador Sea is connected to the Hudson Bay in the West, and via Davis Strait to the Canadian Archipelago in the North. The Labrador Sea is wide open to the Atlantic Ocean in the East.


Three current systems dominate the Labrador Sea: the West Greenland Current, the Labrador Current and the North Atlantic Current at the southern limit. Besides the Greenland Sea, the Antarctic Weddell Sea and the European Mediterranean Sea, the Labrador Sea is one of the few worldwide locations, where deep water convection occurs. Here, kilometer-wide "plumes" of cold water sink to the ocean bottom and feed cold, deep currents of bottom water that start moving south toward the equator.


The climate of the Labrador Sea is more Arctic than Atlantic. The sea is covered with floating pack ice and icebergs for eight months of the year. The masses of ice keep sea temperatures below 4°C. Cool winds predominate in summer, often with light - but reliable - rainfall or drizzle. In winter, when the Atlantic air is relatively mild, the weather is rather cloudy and foggy, and snow flurries occur frequently.


Marine wild life in the Labrador Sea is widely comparable to that of other parts of the sub Arctic North Atlantic Ocean, and fishery is one of the main economic sources.


Major Banks

Hamilton Bank, Saglek Bank, Grand Banks of Newfoundland

Main island

Resolution Island

Major tributaries

Hamilton River



Northeastern boundaries Greenland
Western boundaries South Baffin Island
Southwestern boundaries Canada
Southeastern boundaries North Atlantic Ocean
Areal extent and water depth  
Areal extent not officially defined
Maximum water depth < 4,000 m
Water depth coastal areas widely 200 m
Surface water temperature ~ 0 bis 6°C
Air temperature (annual mean) ~ 5 bis 7°C
Air temperature winter ~ -10 bis -15°C
Surface water salinity ~ 35 ‰
Annual precipitation ~ 250 bis 1,000 mm
Snow height on coastal land ~ 4 bis 5 m

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