Greenland: Climate Change in a Frozen Paradise

For those whose heart belongs to traveling, Greenland should definitely be on your bucketlist. I found the largest island in the world almost a kind of paradise, only just a bit colder.

Before traveling to Greenland, I couldn’t even begin to imagine the sights I found there. And one thing is certain – what you might have seen in pictures or movies can’t compare to the real thing. After putting your own two feet on the ground of Greenland, you’ll be surprised by the overwhelming feelings that hit you. At least that was the case for me.

A Majestic Arctic landscape
First of all, it was the landscape that overwhelmed me. Because of the enormous Greenland Ice Sheet, which covers 80 percent of the total landmass in Greenland, the country consists of snowscape as far as you can see.

The geographical story behind the world’s second largest ice cap is quite amazing. Because of the ice cap, huge glaciers have formed. From here, the ice is breaking and this is what creates the big icebergs. In some locations, it’s possible to walk on the majestic ice sheet.

During my trip to Greenland, I chose the city of Kangerlussuaq as my first destination. The entree to the ice cap is only 25 kilometers away from the city and I could drive the whole way. Some of the other tourists I met on the way had signed up for accommodations at the ice cap, where they were going to sleep in tents. That will definitely be an experience I will try out next time I visit Greenland.Seeing the icebergs up close took my breath away. Some of the beautiful glistening sculptures were as high as a skyscraper in New York – and that was only the part of the iceberg that I could see! One day a local man told me that we only see 1/10 of the iceberg, while the rest of it is underwater. It’s funny to imagine the overall size of the icebergs, though it might be quite impossible. When looking at the majestic icebergs standing side by side, I noticed that every iceberg has its own unique form and tells a different story of how the nature created them. I don’t know how I would describe the view with any other word than just incredible.

The Arctic Wildlife of Greenland

Another point on my checklist while visiting Greenland was to explore some of the Arctic wildlife here. In Kangerlussuaq, the musk oxen are very concentrated and easy to see when they’re grazing in the greenery landscape. Besides that, the frozen paradise is host to polar bears, Arctic foxes, reindeers and many other incredible animals.

Also in the deep dark ocean, the Arctic wildlife is amazing, especially the whales, which should be experienced at close hand. The variety of different species are enormous. One can often see humpback whales, the huge blue whale and the white beluga whale.

Personally, I wanted to get as close to the whales as possible. I booked a trip on a boat, where an experienced boat driver was ready to point out the whales for us. I had settled my expectations extremely high for this whale-watching trip. Yet, they were all fulfilled and the trip was truly fantastic. To stand on a boat in the middle of the big Arctic ocean and suddenly hear the noise of a whale exhaling is an intriguing experience! Whale watching is also represented on the list of the “big Artic five”, which I clearly understand.

Greenland: A Melting Arctic Wonder

Unfortunately, the majestic ice-covered landscape in Greenland is threatened by worldwide climate changes. As a result of global warming, the ice in Greenland is melting. The Arctic wildlife are the most affected. One of the vulnerable animals is the polar bear. For these big beautiful predators, it becomes much more difficult to hunt when the ice is diminished. The polar bear is adjusted to life in the Arctic, which is why their fur is white as snow. This helps in their hunting. Without the ice, a polar bear would be much easier to discover.

Another hardship the polar bears endure with diminishing ice is having to swim longer distances to hunt. There has already been a documented increase in the numbers of drowned polar bears.

In addition, the unique Inuit culture in Greenland is threatened by the climate changes. Since the first immigration at Thule, about 4000-5000 years ago, the population in Greenland has depended on hunting and the country’s natural resources. For the locals, decreasing numbers of wildlife, which they depend on, make it harder to survive. Although Greenland is amazing in so many ways, the country does not have the climate for effective agriculture.

I am saddened by the fact that this beautiful Arctic wonder is threatened by the terrible consequences of climate changes. Greenland has become one of my favorite destinations, and I hope that others can discover this beautiful Arctic world. If this country truly is changing and the ice disappearing, Greenland is definitely a place to visit before it’s too late.

Luckily, climate changes and global warming are hot topics of discussion all over the world right now. Hopefully, this brings the terrible consequences affecting Greenland into focus. The people of Greenland know all too well how the changes have affected them, and they are striving to help others understand. (The Official National Tourism Board of Greenland is already fighting to bring this issue into focus. They’ve created an infographic highlighting several countries and animal species threatened by the melting ice.

I feel lucky to have seen Greenland and its natural wonders. I only hope that it will retain its incredible wildlife and majestic beauty for others to experience too.

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