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The Barents Sea

(Photo NASA)

The Barents Sea is located between the northernmost tip of the European mainland and the islands of Spitsbergen and Franz-Josef-Land. Eastern boundary: here the Barents Sea is delimited from the Kara Sea by the sickle-shaped island of Novaya Zemlya.


The Barents Sea is widely characterized by water depths ranging between 10m and 100m. Seafloor topography of this shelf area only gently slopes towards the central Arctic Ocean up in the north and towards the Greenland-Norwegian Sea in western direction.


The Barents Sea is one of the main oceanographic gateways between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. High saline and warm Atlantic water masses are transported by runners of the Gulf Stream via Barents Sea towards the central Arctic. In return, freshwater will be exported in the form of sea ice from the Arctic Ocean to the Barents Sea. The warm Atlantic water masses from the south enhance melting of the sea ice, which results in ice-free conditions in parts of the Barents Sea throughout the year.


Barents Sea climate is predominantly influenced by the large-scale meteorological conditions of the Greenland Norwegian Sea. Here, extended atmospheric low-pressure systems are formed subsequent to the collision of cold Polar waters and warm Atlantic currents. The cyclons born in the Greenland-Norwegian Sea track eastwards along 70° N and - even during winter - cause a much milder climate in the Barents Sea as compared to the continental climate conditions on the east Siberian shelves.