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The Fram Strait

Photo NASA

The Fram Strait is located between northern Greenland and Spitsbergen in the northernmost part of the North Atlantic. The limited shelf areas on both sides of this narrow ocean gateway steeply slope to the deep sea. Considering earth’s history, the opening of this gateway is rather young and its width increases permanently by the drift of large continental plates in the earth’s crust.


The different Arctic Ocean drift ice branches are forced together in Fram Strait and - driven by surface water and atmospheric circulation - are pressed through this narrow gate out to the Greenland-Norwegian Sea. In return, Atlantic water masses flow into the central Arctic Ocean. These water masses can still be traced in the North Pacific Bering Sea.


The warmer water of the Greenland-Norwegian Sea promotes melting of the pack ice pressed through Fram Strait. Due to melting, the ice-transported material - consisting of fine rock particles, small creatures and driftwood - will be released again.


The Fram Strait weather is both dominated by cold Polar air masses and humid cyclonic pressure systems from the Greenland-Norwegian Sea. Heavy fog and temperatures rather seldom above 0° C are characteristic for this sea area, where Arctic sea ice, cold Polar water masses and warm southerly currents crash together.



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