Nares Strait


Nares Strait
Map indicating Nares Strait.png
Nares Strait (boxed) is between Ellesmere Island and Greenland.
  Nunavut, Canada
Nares Strait is located in Greenland
Nares Strait
Nares Strait
LocationBetween Ellesmere Island (Canada) and Greenland
Coordinates80°N 070°W / 80°N 70°W / 80; -70 (Nares Strait)Coordinates: 80°N 070°W / 80°N 70°W / 80; -70 (Nares Strait)
Native name
EtymologyGeorge Nares
Ocean/sea sources
Basin countriesCanada, Greenland
Max. length530 km (330 mi)[1]: 2026 
Min. width35 km (22 mi)[1]: 2026 
Max. depth600 metres (2,000 ft)[1]: 2026 

Nares Strait (Danish: Nares Strædet; French: Détroit de Nares) is a waterway between Ellesmere Island and Greenland that connects the northern part of Baffin Bay in the Atlantic Ocean with the Lincoln Sea in the Arctic Ocean. From south to north, the strait includes Smith Sound, Kane Basin, Kennedy Channel, Hall Basin and Robeson Channel. Nares strait has a nearly permanent current from the north, powered by the Beaufort Gyre, making it harder to traverse for ships coming from the south.

Time-lapse imagery from July 9 to Sept. 13 2012 shows an ice island calve from Petermann Glacier and pass through Nares Strait.

In 1964, its name was agreed by the Danish (Stednavneudvalget, now Stednavnenævnet) and Canadian governments. The name derives from the British naval officer George Strong Nares.

The strait and neighbouring waters are usually hazardous for navigation and shipping. Icebergs and pack ice are present year-round; in an extreme example during 1962–64, a 20 km (12 mi) by 10 km (6.2 mi) ice island drifted southward from the Lincoln Sea through the Nares and Davis Straits to the Labrador Sea.[1] During August, however, it is usually navigable by icebreakers. Prior to 1948, only five vessels were recorded as having successfully navigated north of Kane Basin. In 2009 the ship Arctic Sunrise made the first known June transit into the Arctic Ocean.[2]

Hans Island, a tiny island lying within the strait, is claimed by both Denmark (on behalf of Greenland) and Canada. Other islands within the strait are Joe Island, Crozier Island, and the much larger Franklin Island.

Thule People reached the Nares Strait in the early 13th century, where they hunted with and traded with Vikings.[3] Archeological remains of Thule Culture and Viking presence are found on Ruin Island.


  1. ^ a b c d Münchow, Andreas; Melling, Humfrey; Falkner, Kelly K (2006). "An Observational Estimate of Volume and Freshwater Flux Leaving the Arctic Ocean Through Nares Strait" (PDF). Journal of Physical Oceanography. 36 (11): 2026. CiteSeerX doi:10.1175/jpo2962.1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2010-12-23..
  2. ^ Barkham, Patrick (2009-09-01). "The Sermilik fjord in Greenland: a chilling view of a warming world". The Guardian. London.
  3. ^ Inuit-Norse contact in the Smith Sound region/Schledermann, P. McCullough, K.M.

Further reading

  • Dawes, Peter R., and J. William Kerr. Nares Strait and the Drift of Greenland A Conflict in Plate Tectonics. Meddelelser om Grønland, 8. Copenhagen: [s.n.], 1982.
  • Sadler, H. E. 1976. Water, Heat and Salt Transports Through Nares Strait, Ellesmere Island. "Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada", 33, 2286–2295..
  • Zreda, M, J England, F Phillips, D Elmore, and P Sharma. 1999. "Unblocking of the Nares Strait by Greenland and Ellesmere Ice-Sheet Retreat 10,000 Years Ago". Nature. 398, no. 6723: 139.

External links

  • NASA: Missing 'Ice Arches' Contributed to 2007 Arctic Ice Loss
  • 'Ocean current observations from Nares Strait to the west of Greenland: Interannual to tidal variability and forcing' (2008)