A fjord (pronounced FEE-ord or fyord, SAMPA: ['fi:3:d] or ['faI3:d]; sometimes written fiord) is a glacially overdeepened valley, usually narrow and steep-sided, extending below sea level and filled with salt water.
Fjords are found in locations where current or past glaciation extended to sea level. A fjord is formed when a glacier (carving its typical U-shaped valley) meets the sea and melts. This leaves a narrow, steep sided valley into which the sea floods. The flood creates a narrow, deep lake (sometimes as deep as 1300m) connected to the sea. The terminal moraine pushed down the valley by the glacier is left underwater at the fjord's entrance, causing the water at the neck of the fjord to be shallower than the main body of the fjord behind it.
This shallow threshold and the protection afforded by the valley's sides generally means that fjords are excellent natural harbours. Consequently fjords often provide the home-port to fishing fleets, and in industrialised locations have come to be used for fish farming and shipbuilding.
As late as in 2000 the some of the worlds largest coral reefs were discovered along the bottoms of the norwegian fjords. Theese reefs were found in fjords all the way from the north of Norway to the south. The marine life on the reefs is believed to be one of the most important reasons why the Norwegian coastline is such a generous fishing ground. Since the discovery is fairly new, little research has been done. So far, only the deep sea diver who discovered the first reef at 60 meters has visited it, and even he has only been down three times. The reefs are host to thousands of lifeforms such as plankton, coral, anemonies, fish, several species of sharks, and many more one would expect to find on a reef. Most however are specially adapted to life under the greater preassure of the water column above it, and the total darkness of the deep sea.
Fjords are found all along the coast of:
The longest fjords in the world are:
- Scoresby Sund on Greenland, (350 km)
- Sognefjord in Norway (203 km)
- Hardangerfjord in Norway (179 km)
The long fjord-like bays of the New England coast are sometimes referred to as "fiards".
The Lim bay in Istria, Croatia, is sometimes called "Lim fjord" although it's not actually a fjord created by glaciation but instead an estuary created by the erosive forces of the river Pazinčica.
The word fjord comes from the Scandinavian languages, and is cognate to firth. In Scandinavia, fjord is used for narrow inlets in Norway, Denmark and western Sweden, whereas the name Fjärd is used in a synonymous manner for narrow inlets on Sweden's Baltic Sea coast, and in most Swedish lakes. This latter term is also used for bodies of water off the coast of Finland where Swedish is spoken. Note that the uses for the words fjord and especially for the eastern form fjärd are more general in the Scandinavian languages, than in English. Fjord in the English sense is taken from a type of fjord found in Norway and in parts of Sweden.
Fjords in literature and popular culture
- Use of whales to probe Arctic fjord's secrets (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2683797.stm)
- Pictures and info about Norwegian fjords (http://www.fjords.com)