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Baffin Bay, eight of the phibìc Atlantic ocean with one area that 266,000 square mile (689,000 square km), expanding southward native the Arctic because that 900 miles (1,450 km) between the Greenland shore (east) and also Baffin Island (west). The bay has a broad varying in between 70 and 400 miles (110 and also 650 km). Davis Strait (south) leads from the bay to the Atlantic, whereas Nares Strait (north) leader to the Arctic Ocean. A pit at the bay’s centre, the Baffin Hollow, plunges to a depth that 7,000 feet (2,100 m), and also the bay, although tiny exploited by humans since of its hostile environment, is of significant interest to geologists examining the development of the phibìc American continent.


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Baffin Bay
An iceberg in Baffin Bay, north Atlantic Ocean.
Jupiterimages—Photos.com/Thinkstock

The an initial European visitor to explore the bay was Robert Bylot, one English sea captain, in might 1616, but his name was not provided to the entity, the honour going instead to his lieutenant, william Baffin. Even the latter’s discoveries came to be doubted until the later explorations the Captain (later Sir) john Ross, in 1818. The very first scientific investigations because Bylot’s mapping that the shores were carried out in 1928 through a Danish and also by an American expedition, complied with by another, an ext extensive inspection in the 1930s. Patrol vessels, currently aided through aircraft, have long investigated ice distribution in the region, and also after world War II a Canadian expedition undertook complicated investigations.

Baffin Bay’s oval floor is fringed through the submarine shelves the Greenland and Canada and by ledges at the mouths the sounds. Apart from the main pit, depths range from 800 feet (240 m) in the north to 2,300 feet (700 m) in the south. The bottom sediments are mainly terrigenous (originating ~ above land) and also include gray-brown homogeneous silts, pebbles, and boulders. Gravel lies everywhere.

The climate is severe, especially in winter, once northeast winds blow off Baffin Island (in the south) and in the bay’s northern sector. Northwesterly and also southwesterly winds predominate in summer. Easterlies blow off the Greenland coast, and also storms space frequent, significantly in the winter. January temperatures average -4° F (-20° C) in the south and -18° F (-28° C) aside from that north, however the warm, dry foehn winds that sweep down from the valleys include Greenland’s glaciers sometimes cause winter thaws. In July the temperature ~ above the shores averages 45° F (7° C), v some snow. Overall, the yearly precipitation off Greenland is 4–10 inch (100–250 mm), reaching twice this turn off Baffin Island.


Icebergs are thick even in August; the ice cover is formed from Arctic fill ice entering through the north sounds, from local sea ice, and also from icebergs that have broken off surrounding glaciers. By so late October, ice fields reach Hudson Strait (between Baffin Island and also the Quebec mainland), a an ar where seaside ice has currently been thickening, greatly near Greenland, where prevailing easterly winds make for sheltered conditions. The center of Baffin bay is covered with compounded ice cream in winter, but in the north over there is actually a permanent ice-free area (the “northern water”) that may be related to the warming impact of the West Greenland Current.

The salinity that Arctic waters flowing into Baffin Bay arrays from 30.0 come 32.7 components per thousand, and also their temperature warms as much as 41° F (5° C) ~ above the surface ar in summer, cooling in winter come 29° F (-2° C). The great 1,300–2,000 feet (400–600 m) deep reach 34° F (1° C) and also a salinity of 34.5 parts per thousand. Below 3,300 feet (1,000 m) in the central regions, the water—probably Atlantic in origin—reaches 31° F (-0.5° C) and also has a salinity of 34.4 components per thousand.

Tides are an important and interesting feature. Close to Baffin Island and also the shores of Greenland the tidal range is around 13 feet (4 m), getting to as much as 30 feet (9 m) wherein the water is forced through narrow passages. The tidal price varies in between 0.6 and also 2.3 miles every hour (1 and also 3.7 km per hour), and the direction the the tides different by as much as 180°. This phenomenon to produce unequal push on the areas of floating ice and also results in the churning together and also crushing the fresh, old, and also pack ice.

The dissolved of salts in the water and also the warming result of southerly currents do Baffin just a haven because that myriad life-forms. The countless single-cell algae nourish small invertebrates, significantly euphausiids (an stimulate of small, shrimplike crustaceans), and also these in turn are food for larger invertebrates, fish, birds, and mammals. Amongst the fish found in Baffin Bay are the Arctic flounder, four-horned sculpin (a spiny, large-headed, broad-mouthed fish), polar cod, and also capelin (a small fish the the smelt family). Migrant fish native Atlantic waters incorporate cod, haddock, herring, halibut, and grenadier (a tapering-bodied, soft-finned fish). Wildlife likewise includes ringed seals, moustache seals, harp seals, and—in the north—walrus, dolphins, and whales (including killer whales). Seaside birds incorporate gulls, ducks, geese, eiders, snowy owls, snow buntings, ravens, gyrfalcons, and sea eagles.

The plant cover that the floor bordering the just is an in similar way varied, with around 400 types represented. Shrubs include birch, willow, and also alder and additionally halophytic tree (i.e., those adjusted to braided soils), and also lyme (or tussock) grass, mosses, and lichens. These carry out food for rodents and the splendid caribou of the area. Polar bears and also Arctic foxes likewise abound. Massive fishing stays undeveloped since of the perils of the hefty ice cover, but local residents—who are mainly Eskimo (Inuit)—carry on part fishing and hunting, regularly with classic methods.

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This article was many recently revised and also updated by Amy Tikkanen, corrections Manager.