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Greenland | Iceland | Canadian Arctic & Northwest Passage

Greenland

As we traveled west from Iceland on the National Geographic Explorer headed to the Northwest Passage we spent some time exploring coastal Greenland high in the North Atlantic off the coast of Canada. At 3 ˝ times the size of Texas over 80% of Greenland is covered by ice making it is the 2nd largest ice body in the world after Antarctica. The thickness of the ice is on average 1.2 miles thick with some areas close to 2 miles thick. If the entire 684,000 cu miles of ice were to melt it would lead to a global sea rise of 24 feet so this is one giant ice cap.

So why is Greenland covered with ice called Greenland while Iceland which is largely green called Iceland? Way back in 982 the famous murderous and pillaging Viking, Eric the Red sailed from Iceland and was the first known westerner to explore Greenland. When he returned to Iceland his goal was to entice more Norseman to go to Greenland to establish settlements. So he named it Greenland to encourage people to go there. Essentially it was clever marketing ploy to trick settlers into going there from Iceland. Also back then while Greenland was indeed still covered with ice it’s coastal areas were much milder than today with some grasslands and marshes which enabled the Vikings to establish small settlements where they raised cattle and sheep. However all the Vikings disappeared after the arrival of the “Little Ice Age” (1400s till 1800s) as the land became much less habitable.
The only peoples who remained for several hundred years were the various indigenous populations of arctic Inuit, Inuk and Thule peoples who arrived about 4,500 years ago from Arctic Russia via Alaska and Canada.
Although owned by Denmark Greenland is considered part of North America and has had self-rule since 2009. With virtually no agriculture or industry Greenland relies on Denmark for 35% of their GDP thru subsidies. The remainder is fisheries of shrimp, cod and halibut. Popular foods continue to be fish, reindeer, seal, and whale. As a result we saw very little wildlife in and around Greenland.


For purchase or for usage rights contact: Bill Klipp, billklipp@wkimages.net
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Iceberg Arch, Western Greenland  1
Iceberg Arch, Western Greenland 1
Fulmar, Western Greenland  9
Fulmar, Western Greenland 9
Humpback Whale, Greenland  1
Humpback Whale, Greenland 1
Sperm Whale Fluke, Greenland  2
Sperm Whale Fluke, Greenland 2
Fulmar, Sunset  1
Fulmar, Sunset 1
Fulmar  2
Fulmar 2
Fulmar  3
Fulmar 3
Ilulissat,  Disko Bay  1
Ilulissat, Disko Bay 1
Iceberg Arch, Western Greenland  2
Iceberg Arch, Western Greenland 2
Sperm Whale blow, Greenland  3
Sperm Whale blow, Greenland 3
Arctic Cotton.  Ilulissat  1
Arctic Cotton. Ilulissat 1
Icebergs, Ilulissat Disko Bay  7
Icebergs, Ilulissat Disko Bay 7
Humpback Whale, Sisimuit  2
Humpback Whale, Sisimuit 2
Humpback Whale, Sisimuit  3
Humpback Whale, Sisimuit 3
Disko Bay  1
Disko Bay 1
Fog Bow over National Geographic Explorer,  Disko Bay  2
Fog Bow over National Geographic Explorer, Disko Bay 2
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