Political Climate
Jan 17, 2008
Ice Returns as Greenland Temps Plummet

On Disko Bay in western Greenland, where a number of prominent world leaders have visited in recent years to get a first-hand impression of climate change, temperatures have dropped so drastically that the water has frozen over for the first time in a decade. “The ice is up to 50cm thick,” said Henrik Matthiesen, an employee at Denmark’s Meteorological Institute who has also sailed the Greenlandic coastline for the Royal Arctic Line. ‘We’ve had loads of northerly winds since Christmas which has made the area miserably cold.’ Matthiesen suggested the cold weather marked a return to the frigid temperatures common a decade ago.

Temperatures plunged to -25C earlier this month, clogging the bay with ice and making shipping impossible for small crafts, according to Anthon Frederiksen, the mayor of the town of Ilulissat, where Disko Bay is located. The mayor cautioned against thinking that the freezing temperature indicated that global warming claims were overblown. He noted that a nearby glacier had retracted more in the past two decades than in recorded history. But he noted “‘We Greenlanders have acclimated to changing conditions over the past 1100 years,” said Frederiksen. “Temperatures change at regular intervals.”

NASA satellite image of Greenland. You clearly see the ice cap covering almost entire Greenland even in this non-winter photo. Only in summer are the coastal areas free of snow. On the far left you can see Baffin Island.

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