GRACE

Greenland

Data from the GRACE satellites allow scientists to see how fresh water is being redistributed across the continents over time.

 

2003
2009

CAPITAL: Nuuk

AREA: 836,109 square miles (2,186,086 km2)

PERCENTAGE OF SURFACE AREA COVERED BY WATER: 83.1%covered by ice

POPULATION: 56,000

GEOGRAPHY: Located in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northeastern coast of Canada, Greenland is the world’s largest island. It is bounded on the north by the Arctic Ocean; on the west by Smith Sound, Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait; and on the east by the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans. The coastline is rugged, mountainous and barren, with the land rising to a sloping ice cap that covers most of the island. Northeast Greenland National Park is the world’s largest national park. The Greenland ice sheet covers approximately 83% of the surface. The extreme north, Peary Land, is not covered by ice because the air is too dry to produce snow. If the Greenland ice sheet were to melt away completely, there would be a measurable rise in the world’s sea level.

CLIMATE: The climate in Greenland ranges from arctic to subarctic. Temperatures in Nuuk vary annually from 15.8° to 44.6°F (-9° to 7°C). The north and much of the interior experience true Arctic weather, with the temperature only rising above freezing for brief periods in the summer.

ECONOMY: Much of the economy is based on fishing, with shrimp fishing the largest income producer. Greenland appears to have large reserves of fossil fuels. The state oil company Nunaoil was created to help develop the future hydrocarbon industry. Mining of ruby deposits began in 2007.


Photo © Ville Miettinen

 

The GRACE data visualization shows changes in total freshwater storage across the landscape for the period January 2007 to March 2009, relative to the average amount of water at that location during this period. The blue colors show regions that are wetter than the average and the red colors show regions that are dryer.

 

Examine areas in detail: