Greenland's Oceans


The east and west coastlines of Greenland border the Atlantic Ocean, while the north coast borders the Arctic Ocean.

Atlantic Ocean areas off Greenland have particular names:

Greenland Ocean and CurrentsGreenland Sea -
the water off Northeast Greenland

The Denmark Strait -
the water between Iceland and southeast Greenland

The Davis Strait -
the water between southwestern Greenland and Canada

Baffin Bay -
the water between northwestern Greenland and Canada

The ocean around Greenland is deep – off West Greenland depths can reach as much as 12,000 feet (4,000 meters).

However, it is also a characteristic of this area that depths vary considerably due to the distribution of submerged mountain ranges. Closer to coastlines numerous banks, formed by ancient terminal moraines from the last ice age, lie within the 300-feet-depth contour line (100 meter). These are extremely important for fisheries around Greenland.

The ice covering inshore waters varies tremendously and it is mostly dictated by the local sea currents.

The East Greenland polar current, which flows southwards along the entire east coast from the Arctic Ocean, is a cold current. During winter there is fast ice far out to sea off Northeast Greenland and an ice-belt extending for 30-90 miles (50-150 km), typically off Southeast Greenland. All coastal navigation on the east coast is impossible during this period.  For most of the rest of the year Drift Ice propelled by the polar current moves down along the east coast and some distance up the west coast.


Sea ice and ocean conditions on satellite images from Polar view   Explore sea ice and ocean conditions in Greenland with satellite images updated several times a day - from the MODIS Satellite >>