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The Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean is nearly entirely surrounded by continental mainland. Water depths of the central Arctic Ocean mainly range from 2000m to 4000m, while the Arctic shelves and marginal seas are widely characterized by water depth significantly below 100m.


The Arctic Ocean is connected to the North Atlantic Ocean by different current systems. Huge volumes of ocean water are transported through Fram Strait, the Barents Sea and the natural channel system of the Canadian Archipelago. Via Bering Strait, the Arctic Ocean is connected to the northern Pacific Ocean.


The extended, perennial sea ice cover protects the Arctic Ocean from atmospheric impacts thereby stabilizing the water mass stratification. The multi-year pack ice of the central Arctic accumulates to a thickness of as much as 4m; summer ice melt and winter freezing then are well balanced and larger ice thickness exclusively results from wind- and current-forced lateral pressure and ridging of floes.


The Arctic climate shows two completely different faces: the long, dark and cold Polar night on the one hand and, on contrary, the short, bright and regionally warm Arctic summer. During winter, cold Siberian continental air masses with extreme temperatures below -50°C reach the central Arctic. In summertime, even 24 hours of permanent Solar Radiation do not heat the central Arctic air masses significantly above 0°C, while air temperatures in the circum-Arctic shelf seas may reach as much as 30°C.