The Barents Sea – offering a high biological production

Due to the North Atlantic drift, the Barents Sea has a high biological production compared to other oceans of similar latitude.

The fresh water from the melting ice makes up a stable water layer on top of the sea water, thus enabling the spring bloom of phytoplankton to start quite early. The phytoplankton bloom feeds zooplankton such as Calanus finmarchicus, Calanus glacialis, Calanus hyperboreus, Oithona spp., and krill.


The southern half of the Barents remains ice-free year round due to the warm North Atlantic drift. In September, the entire Barents Sea is more or less completely ice-free.

There are three main types of water masses in the Barents Sea: warm, salty Atlantic water from the North Atlantic drift (temperature >3°C, salinity >35), cold Arctic water (temperature <0°C, salinity <35) from the north, and warm, but not very salty coastal water (temperature >3°C, salinity <34.7).

Between the Atlantic and Polar waters, a front called the Polar Front is formed. In the western parts of the sea this front is determined by the bottom topography and is therefore relatively sharp and stable from year to year. In the east it can be quite diffuse and its position can vary a lot between years.

The lands of Novaya Zemlya attained most their early Holocene coastal deglaciation approximately 10,000 years before present.


The Barents Sea was formerly known to Russians as Murmanskoye Morye, or the ‘Sea of Murmans’ – i.e. Norwegians. The sea was given its present name in honor of Dutch navigator and explorer Willem Barents. Barents was the leader of expeditions to the far north at the end of the sixteenth century.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Red Banner Northern Fleet used the southern reaches of the Sea as a ballistic missile submarine bastion, a strategy that Russia continues. Nuclear contamination from dumped Russian naval reactors is an environmental concern in the Barents Sea.

Oil exploration in the Barents Sea began in the 1970s with discoveries made on both the Russian and Norwegian sides. For decades there was a boundary dispute between Norway and Russia, with the Norwegians favouring the Median Line and the Russians favouring a meridian based sector. A compromise treaty announced in 2010 settled the border in the approximate middle of these two stances.

Source: Wikipedia