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Marine Places

Denmark Strait

Most of the water leaving the Arctic Ocean flows into the north Atlantic through the Denmark Strait, propelled by the East Greenland Current. Icebergs from the eastern side of the Greenland Ice Sheet are carried south by this cold current, while the warm North Atlantic Drift flows northeast on the eastern side of the island, between Iceland and the Faeroe Islands. At depth, cold, dense Arctic bottom water pools to the northeast of Iceland until it overflows the Greenland–Iceland Rise and cascades 6,500 ft (2,000 m) down into the main Atlantic basin.

This is the start of a global journey as the dense water circulates around the deepest parts of the world’s oceans—the deep-water leg of the “great ocean conveyor belt."

In winter, sea ice builds up along the Greenland coast. Sometimes, cold winds blow east off the Greenland Ice Sheet, pushing sea ice offshore. More sea ice is created as the wind cools the exposed surface water, and a tongue of sea ice can extend south from the Greenland Sea through the Denmark Strait.

Iceland - Denmark Straitzoom image
  • Length 300 miles (480 km)
  • Minimum Width 180 miles (290 km)