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The Laptev Sea

The Laptev Sea is the smallest of the Siberian shelf seas. The shallow sea area extends along the coastline of the Republic of Sakha and is flanked by the Taymyr Peninsula in the west and by the New Siberian Islands to the east.


In the central part, the Laptev Sea continental slope is structured by northwards running, broad submarine valleys. These valleys were eroded by large river systems draining into the Laptev Sea during periods of lower sea level stands. After the last glaciation, these valleys got flooded during the worldwide sea level rise.


The northern Laptev Sea is predominantly influenced by Atlantic and Pacific water masses, which flow into one another in this area from western and eastern directions, respectively. The water mass distribution of the southern Laptev Sea is perennially dominated by the continental run-off from the Lena, Yana and Khatanga rivers. The continental run-off is an important factor for late fall and winter ice formation.


During winter, the Laptev Sea is one of the coldest regions of the Northern Hemisphere. However, during summer the continental climate may significantly heat the region of the southern Laptev Sea. The water masses in the Lena River delta may even reach 20°C and, thus, have swimming-temperature.



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