Here's some of what I learned.
1. Greenland is the largest island in the world, with a population of only 60,000, living entirely on the coasts. It is a territory of Denmark and IT IS NOT FOR SALE.
2. Most Greenland towns are tiny. The population is 88% Inuit and 12% Danish and Other.
- Sisimut - population 5,524
- Ilulissat - pop 4,905
- Uummannaq - pop 2,282
- Qeqertarsuaq - pop 845
- Nuuk - pop 17,635
|Photo by Erikur Einarsson|
3. Greenlandic dogs are not pets. They are working animals who live outdoors. Puppies begin their training at six months. We were told not to touch the dogs.
4. Many cemetery markers have no names on them. The people believe the soul of the person is still alive, so marking the body is unnecessary.
5. "Climate", according to Google, is "The usual condition of the temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, and other meteorological elements in an area of the Earths's surface for a long time. In simple terms climate is the average condition for about thirty years." It is warmer in the current 30 years than in the previous 30. But 1,000 years ago it was warmer than it is now. The earth undergoes periodic climate changes, from warmer to cooler to warmer again, in a kind of wave pattern. It is currently in a warmer phase. I don't know how much of the current climate change is because of human activity and how much is the normal earth cycle.
6. I understand more about what causes glaciers, and what sustains them. That happened one afternoon when my travel companion - who has expertise in geomorphology - drew the story of a glacier for me on the back of a daily schedule.
7. Icebergs are a wonder. We traveled past them, up to them, among them, and beside them.
|Ginger ale and a 2,000-year-old ice cube|
- From the National Snow & Ice Data Center I got this excellent description of how they form and what happens to them:
- " Icebergs form when chunks of ice calve, or break off, from glaciers, ice shelves, or a larger iceberg. Icebergs travel with ocean currents, sometimes smashing up against the shore or getting caught in shallow waters.
- When an iceberg reaches warm waters, the new climate attacks it from all sides. On the iceberg surface, warm air melts snow and ice into pools called melt ponds that can trickle through the iceberg and widen cracks. At the same time, warm water laps at the iceberg edges, melting the ice and causing chunks of ice to break off. On the underside, warmer waters melt the iceberg from the bottom up."
- About 80 percent of an iceberg's mass is under the water. We learned that at some point an iceberg will flip over, and that no boat should be in the vicinity because the wave made by the turning is dangerous. I asked how long it takes for an iceberg to melt and was told "within a year". Here's one that was beginning to rock toward toppling as we motored beside it:
8. Whales - I've seen humpback whales in Hawaii, and now I've seen them in Greenland, where they were hanging around the icebergs. None of my photos caught them, but our guide says I can share the one he got:
|Photo by Erikur Einarsson|
My husband and I were in Iceland in 2005, before it became a tourist destination. This summer I could see how the country has changed, for better and for worse, with the arrival of many visitors. So far, Greenland is still a quiet place. I hope it stays that way.