Destination Ice Island
Greenland is the world’s largest island, with an area of some 2.2 million square km. Only around 410,000 square km of this are NOT covered by ice.
The northernmost land area in the world, situated less than 730km from the North Pole, is on Greenland, Cape Morris Jesup. The island’s southernmost point, Cape Farewell is 2,670 km south of this, so it really is a huge area, and very sparsely populated.
The island’s climate is Arctic, apart from a few sheltered valleys in South Greenland. The average temperature during the warmest month of the year does not rise above 10C.
My first destination will be Zackenberg Ecological Monitoring Station
I’ve been following the weather online, using data from Daneborg, which is around 25km from Zackenberg, and also has a base used by the station’s visiting scientists, and, incidentally, the Sirius dogsled patrol during the winter.
Weather forecasts for Daneborg
I’ll be arriving at Zackenberg, all being well, on Tuesday some time, after leaving Germany on Monday and spending a night on Iceland. More about the travel details later.
The Tuesday forecast looks good, sunshine, with a cool 4 degrees, dropping to 2 at night, although at this time of year there is not a great deal of difference, as it stays light most of the time. I’m hoping the forecast will be right and we’ll get some of that beautiful clear,blue Arctic weather. There’s always a danger of the other sort, with lots of fog.
Greenland is part of Denmark, but enjoys Home Rule, which means it deals with most of its own domestic affairs. It still has very close ties with Denmark and benefits from annual subsidies from Copenhagen, as well as free education, hospital and other services for Greenlandic citizens. The island is otherwise dependent on fishing at the moment.
The changes in the Arctic climate, which could open up access to natural resources now well under ice, will have major implications for the people of Greenland. Managing this and the whole adaptation process will be quite a challenge for the Home Rule authorities. But more about all that in the weeks to come.
More Information on Greenland from Greenland Home Rule
According to information published by the Arctic Council earlier this year summarizing a study on Snow, Water, Ice and Permaforst in the Arctic, if the ice sheet were to melt, the global seal level rise would be almost 7 meters. This figure would have devastating effects around the planet. No-one is saying this is going to happen soon, but the Greenland Ice Sheet is losing mass, and will be highly susceptible to the predicted strong warming of this part of the Arctic. I’ll be talking to the scientists working on all the complex processes which are part of climate change first-hand and finding out about their work in the field over the next few weeks.
DateJuly 10, 2009 | 10:56 am