The Greenland Sea is an outlying part of the Arctic Ocean and is bordered by Greenland to the west, Svalbard to the east, Norwegian Sea and Iceland on the southern part, and Arctic Ocean to the north. The Greenland Sea has an average depth of 4,750 feet; the deepest point is estimated to be 15,999.99 feet. The border of the Norwegian Sea to the southeast and the Arctic Greenland Sea is a line connecting Bear Island, the Island of Jan Mayen, and northeast Iceland. In addition, the line marks the underwater ridges as well as the average Arctic ice edge. The most significant part of the Greenland Sea is found above the Arctic Circle.
Studies Conducted in the Area
Scientific investigations in the area began in 1876 to 1878. Other vessels from the Soviet Union, Norway, and Iceland have since undertaken scientific research in the area. Fridtjof Nansen assisted in detailing the current complex system in 1909, and his work was later updated by the Russian Studies. The Mohns Ridge divides the sea into the North Icelandic Deep and the Greenland Basin. The bed also deepens irregularly northward. Gorges are filled with silt such as gravel, silt sands, and boulders.
The temperatures in the sea have been steadily rising since 1985 but have always been below the freezing point. Some of the highest temperatures that have ever been recorded were all in recent years with the warmest being 30.56 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperatures are still cold, but scientists consider them to be too warm. Scientists have also noted that the Greenland Sea's temperatures are rising ten times faster than the world’s average.
The sea is inhabited by a variety of marine life with plankton and algae which form the basis of the food chain. Fish including herring, cod, halibut, and redfish can be found in the ocean. Other species that are found in the Greenland Sea include mammals such as dolphins, whales and seals, and birds such as ducks and gulls. The coasts around the sea have lichens, mosses, and bushes that support musk oxen and deer. The sea is among the main breeding grounds for the hooded seals which have an inflatable ‘bladder’ on their heads and spotted pelts.
Impact of Climate Change on the Greenland Sea
The levels have been rapidly rising due to the sea ice melting. The melted water from icebergs releases enormous amounts of freshwater into the sea which leads to the dilution of seawater. The diluted sea water contains fewer nutrients for the algae and the plankton to consume which leads to a decline in the proportion of algae and plankton. Few types of plankton mean that there is less food for the fish to consume. The drop in the proportion of fish in the sea means fewer marine mammals. If the trend continues, the sea will experience a further drop in the amount of marine life in the sea with the possibility of some species being driven into extinction.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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