Norwegian Sea

Norwegian Sea

Norwegian Sea, part of the Atlantic Ocean, NW of Norway, between the Greenland Sea and the North Sea. It is separated from the Atlantic by a submarine ridge linking Iceland and the Faeroe Islands, and from the Arctic by the Jan Mayer Ridge. The warm Norwegian Current gives the sea generally ice-free conditions.
The Norwegian Sea
Mean depth: 1600-1750 meters
Maximum depth: 3,970 meters (13,020 feet)
Area of surface: 1,380,000 square kilometers
Volume: 2,400,000 cubic kilometers
Water salinity: about 35 parts per 1,000
A cruise ship, the SuperStar Libra, formerly operated as the Norwegian Sea.

The Norwegian Sea (Norskehavet) is part of the North Atlantic Ocean northwest of Norway, located between the North Sea (i.e. north of Scotland) and the Greenland Sea.

It adjoins the Iceland Sea to the west and the Barents Sea to the northeast. In the southwest, it is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a submarine ridge running between Iceland and the Faroe Islands. To the North, the Jan Mayen Ridge separates it from the Arctic Ocean.

The Norwegian Sea, the Greenland Sea and the Icelandic Sea are sometimes collectively referred to as the Nordic Seas.


In the Norwegian Sea and Greenland Sea, surface water descends two to three kilometres down to the bottom of the ocean, forming cold, oxygen-rich groundwater. As a result, there is a warm surface current and a cold depth current running along the west coast of Norway.

The so-called East Iceland Current transports cold water south from the Norwegian Sea towards Iceland and then east, along the Arctic Circle. In the Norwegian Current, a branch of the Gulf Stream carries warm water masses northward and contributes to the mild and moist climate in Norway. The Norwegian Sea is the source of much of the North Atlantic Deep Water.

The region remains ice-free due to the warm and saline Norwegian Atlantic Current. It provides rich fishing grounds, with catches mostly consisting of cod, herrings, sardines and anchovies. Nowadays, shifts and fluctuations in these currents are closely monitored, as they are thought to be indicators for an ongoing climate change.


Large-scale oil and gas production in the Norwegian Sea started in 1993. In recent news, the Norwegian Sea was proposed as a prototype storage site for the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (see CO2 sink).


  • Nansen and Helland-Hansen: report for the Norwegian Fishery and Marine Investigations. vol. ii. No. 2, 1909
  • Hopkins: The GIN Sea - A synthesis of its physical oceanography and literature review 1972-1985. 1991
  • Fairbridge (editor): The Encyclopedia of Oceanography. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1966
  • Skjoldal, H.R. (editor):"The Norwegian Sea Ecosystem". Tapir Forlag, Norway.2004

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