In the expanse of the ocean, nestled between Greenland and Iceland, lies a colossal natural wonder known as the Denmark Strait cataract. This awe-inspiring phenomenon stretches an astonishing width of 100 miles (160 kilometers) and plummets a staggering 11,500 feet (3,505 meters) from the Greenland Sea into the Irminger Sea.
Remarkably, this underwater cascade carries an immense volume of approximately 175 million cubic feet (5 million cubic meters) of water per second, surpassing the flow of any terrestrial waterfall. Even renowned waterfalls such as Angel Falls in Venezuela and Niagara Falls pale in comparison when it comes to the sheer magnitude of water carried.
What truly sets the Denmark Strait cataract apart is not only its grand scale but the very existence of an underwater waterfall itself. While it may be tempting to envision the ocean as a vast basin with tides swaying back and forth, the reality is that seawater is a dynamic entity.
The interplay of varying temperatures and salinities, influencing the density of the water, creates a constant interaction on both large and small scales. The Denmark Strait cataract is formed by the striking contrast in temperature between the bitterly cold Arctic waters of the Greenland Sea and the relatively warmer waters of the Irminger Sea.
Due to its lower temperature, cold water is denser than its warmer counterpart, as its molecules exhibit reduced activity and occupy less space. When the frigid waters from the Greenland Sea encounter the slightly warmer waters of the Irminger Sea, they rapidly descend to the ocean floor, propelled by their higher density.