The glacier here advances at rates of 40 meters per day
AM on the bay, basking in twenty four hour sun–no bathing suit though
Arriving in Ilulissat spells a very different Greenland experience than what we have had so far. It has paved roads, hotels, souvenir shops, and tour operators. And were it not for the multitude of sled dogs everywhere to remind us that this is still–at its core–a working Inuit town–Ilulissat would begin to feel like Niagara falls: a tourist destination. As well it would be: a Unesco certified World Heritage site, the icefjord of Ilulissat (which literally translates to “iceberg”) is one of the more arresting ice landscape anywhere in the world. Disko Bay which dominates it, is littered with the largest icebergs I have seen anywhere. The Ilulissat glacier is the most active in the northern hemisphere, advancing at speeds that are confounding, particularly as they have been exponentially growing. The accelerator here, as can be expected, is climate change. In 2001, the glacier moved at the rate of 20 meters a day. By 2004, that number had astoundingly increased to 40 meters per day. The cause is universally accepted to be warmer air and warmer water: the glacier loses in thickness, and the water erodes the base below the surface, precipitating the pour.