Sea Currents along the NSR        

Sea Currents along the NSR

(from Navigational Book 4151; translated from Russian)


Sea currents in Arctic seas are both wind-induced and tidal currents. The direction of the currents is calculated by using an indirect method based on water density distribution, and gives an idea of the water circulation in Arctic coastal seas.

In the Kara Sea, East Siberian Sea and Chukchi Sea continuous currents are formed as a result of the fresh water inflow from rivers and the water exchange with adjacent seas including the Arctic Basin. The standard direction of these currents in the above mentioned seas give an idea of currents direction and speed in the surface layer in the summer in the absence of wind or in the presence of minor wind. The velocity of these currents along the major part of the NSR is 0.1 - 0.3 knots. Only in some areas, mainly in straits and in the areas adjoining mouths of large rivers, the speed of the current is 0.4 - 1.2 knots.

A cold current flows from the N to the NW-part of the Kara Sea through the wide passage between Franz Josef Land and Ostrov Ushakova.

Warm Novozemel’skoye (of Novaya Zemlya) Current goes to the Kara Sea from the Barents Sea surrounding Mys Zhelaniya. It flows SW along the eastern coasts of Ostrova Novaya Zemlya. The current velocity is 0.1 - 0.2 knots.

In Proliv Karskiye Vorota a current with a velocity of 0.4 knots goes along Ostrov Vaygach shore from the Barents Sea to the Kara Sea; and near the southern coast of Ostrova Novaya Zemlya there is current with a velocity of 0.2 knots which goes in the opposite direction.

In Proliv Yugorskiy Shar Current is directed from the Barents Sea to the Kara Sea. In the middle of the strait its velocity is 1.2 knots.

In the SW-part of the Kara Sea a current flows from Barents Sea through Proliv Karskiye Vorota and Yugorskiy Shar, towards the NE; its velocity is 0.2 knots.

Waters from the River Ob’ and River Yenisey spread in to the Kara Sea in a fan-shape pattern. Part of these waters form a counter-clockwise rotating current in the SW-part of the Kara Sea. Another part goes northward and north-eastward with a velocity of 0.1- 0.3 knots in the direction of Proliv Vil’kitskogo.

The Matisena Strait Current with a velocity of 0.2 - 0.3 knot is directed to the E and NE. In Proliv Lenina a current of the same velocity goes to the SE.

The Vostochno-Taymyrskoye Current (of the eastern Taymyr) goes from the N to S along the eastern shores of Ostrova Severnaya Zemlya and near the shores of Poluostrov Taymyr with a velocity of 0.2 to 0.3 knots. Part of this current then flows through Proliv Shokal'skogo and the N-part of Proliv Vil‘kitskogo to the Kara Sea, and its main branch continues to the S and gets strengthened by waters coming from the Kara Sea through the southem part of Proliv Vil’kitskugo; its velocity is 0.5 knots. Approximately at the latitude of Bukhta Pronchishchevoy this current meets with a flow of fresh water from Khatangskiy Zaliv, mixes with it and continues to the E with a velocity of 0.2 knots.

In the SE-part of Laplev Sea, under the influence of an inflow from the Rivers Lena and Yana, a E and NE current is generated. Further it merges with currents flowing W from Proliv Dmitriya Lapteva and Proliv Sannikova and continues to the N and NW; its velocity is 0.2 to 0.3 knots.

In the East Siberian Sea a W and NW currents prevail. Only along the coastal area the current is of an ENE direction. To the W of Ostrov Vrangelya a current flow NW; this is an extension of the current flowing from the Chukchi Sea through Proliv Longa; its velocity is 0.1 to 0.2 knots.

In Proliv Dmitriya Lapteva and Proliv Sannikova currents are flowing to the W; their speed is 0.2 to 0.3 knots. In the N-part of Proliv Longa current flows W and in the S-part it is directed to the E; their speed is 0.2 knots.

The lndigirskoye Current (of Indigirka) caused by the water inflow from the Rivers lndigirka and Alazeya is directed to the N and NE. Water from the River Kolyma generates in the sea two distinct current branches, one flows N and the other ENE; their velocity is 0.3 knots.

Currents in the Chukchi Sea are fueled mainly by an influx of Pacific waters through the Bering Strait (Beringovomorskoye Current) and by an influx of the East Siberian Sea waters through Proliv Longa. Velocity of the current in the Bering Strait is about 1 knot. In the Chukchi Sea Beringovomorskoye Current divides into three main branches: Alaskan, Herald and Proliv Longa.

The Alaskan branch flows to the NE from Point Hope along the shore of Alaska; its velocity ranges from 0.5 knots at the parallel of Point Hope to 0.2 knots at the parallel of Point Barrow.

The Herald branch goes to the N through the central part of the sea, surrounding Ostrov Geral’d (Herald) on both sides; velocity of the current ranges between 0.3 knots in the central Chukchi Sea to 0.1 - 0.2 knots in the N-part.

The Proliv Longa branch gets separated from the main flow approximately in the area of the parallel and flows NW into Proliv Longa; velocity of the current is 0.2 knots.

The Chukolskoye Current flows from Proliv Longa to the SE along the coast of Chukotskiy Poluostrov. Its velocity in Proliv Longa is 0.2 knots, and on the meridian of 45 Kolyuchinskaya Guba it is 0.1 knots. This current does not usually reach Bering Strait and in the vicinity of Kolyuchinskaya Guba merges with the current flowing WNW.


    State hydrographic department of the Ministry of Transport of Russian Federation, 1996, Sea Currents along the NSR, .©

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