Geography of Greenland


Terrain shapes and bedrock

Greenland is covered by a mass of ice larger than everyone else, with the exception of Antarctica, to about 5/6. Ice cover is also the most prominent in Greenland’s nature. The surface is dominated by two high ice domes in the eastern part of the island, the northern 3,300 m above sea level, the southern 2,800 m above sea level, which makes Greenland a high plateau. The landmass itself, on the other hand, is a stream-shaped massif, which in its northern part is 250 m below sea level. The thickness of the icicle is a maximum of about 3,000 m, on average 1,515 m.

The precipitation gives an annual ice growth of 30–40 cm, which is, however, counteracted by melting, evaporation and calving, whereby 10,000–15,000 icebergs per year are secreted. As valley glaciers, the ice slides out through lows in the coastal mountains; largest is the 100 km wide Humboldt Glacier in the northwest. From the bedrock conditions in the ice-free edge along the coast, it can be seen that Greenland really belongs to the Canadian indigenous shield and consists mainly of gneiss and granite from the various Precambrian folding systems, which have undergone pen planning. On top of the sub-Cambrian pen plane, sediments such as the Thule Formation, early trusts, collages from the Chalk period and tertiary plateau base salts have been deposited. Glacial erosion has made its mark mainly on the gneiss and granite areas.

Alpine forms appear especially in eastern Greenland. The folding belts from the Silur-Devon periods have here given high peaks with nunataks that protrude from the ice cover. The highest point is Gunnbjørn mountain (3 700 m above sea level) in the southeast basalt area. Enormous fjord complexes and other U-valleys, moraine landscapes with arch-shaped end-moraine on land and banks on the shelf as well as fields with permafrost, rock rings and frost cracks are also typical terrain forms in Greenland, as well as sandy and beach surface formations and an extensive archipelago.

  • AbbreviationFinder: Offer a full list of commonly used abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms related to the state of Greenland.


Greenland has a distinct polar climate. Along the coasts it is of the tundra climate type and inside the glacial climate ice cover. Large local temperature differences occur. In the south there are areas, especially inside the fjords, which are on the border of cold-temperate climate, 10 °C for the warmest month. Perpetuity of 61 ° north latitude has 9.9 °C in July and −7.9 °C in February. Thule at 76.5 ° north latitude has 4.7 and −29.4 °C, respectively.

Eastern Greenland has mainly northern winds and a much harsher climate than western Greenland, where migratory low pressure for in southwest winds. The ice cover has its own climate with all months below 0 °C. Drying winds are typical and can temporarily raise the temperature a few tens of degrees. The difference in precipitation is considerable between southern Greenland (1,900 mm/year) and northern Greenland (100 mm/year), where there is thus an arctic desert climate.

Plant Life

There are a total of about 500 native species of vascular plants and a further number of culturally dispersed species. The flora includes species that are otherwise found in the Arctic and subarctic parts of Eurasia and North America. The vegetation on Greenland’s ice-free parts varies with eg. latitude, precipitation and exposure. Three vegetation provinces can be distinguished.

In the sub-arctic province in the interior of the country’s southern and southwestern parts, there are small-grown forests of glass birch and ripwood, in southwestern Greenland also Aline Aʹlnus viʹridis ssp. Fruticoʹsa.

The low-Arctic province reaches the center of Greenland (about 72 ° north latitude), to the north, however, only in non-coastal areas where the summer temperature is high enough for bush-shaped knowledge to grow. Here are typical varieties of dwarf birch, odon, squid, lingonberry, Stellaʹria loʹngipes star flower and patchwork spire. On protected slopes with good soil moisture, there are occasionally lush, herbaceous meadows with, among other things. angelica. In the coastal areas crow crows dominate with elements of odon.

In the High Arctic province, trees and shrubs are completely missing. Tundra vegetation prevails with heaths of edge heather, iceberg (Saʹlix aixrctica), mountain sip, Greenlandic mountain sip (Dryʹas octopeʹtala ssp. Integrifoʹlia), odon and mountain poppy. Throughout all of Greenland’s ice-free parts, marshes are also very widespread.


Greenland Wildlife

There are eight species of land mammals, of which polar bear, however, spends quite a lot of time on the ice far from land. Wilderness is common in western Greenland, and musk oxen and hermelin are relatively numerous in northeastern Greenland. Mountain foxes come in two color forms, white and blue, which have different distribution and ecology. Wolves are found in northern and northeastern Greenland south to 70 ° north latitude. Polarhare (white form of foresthare) is spread in Greenland. The Arctic Collar Mushroom (Dicrostoʹnyx torquaʹtus) is the only small rodent.

There are six species of seals in the sea (including Greenland seals and walrus) and sixteen species of whales, of which ten are toothed whales (including narwhal, white whale, porpoise, gate whale and killer whale) and six baleen whales (including folded whales). The large baleen whales blue whales, herring whales and greenland whales are now very unusual. There are about 100 species of sea fish, among others. cod, polar cod, capelin and sharks.

About 180 species of birds have been observed, of which about 50 are nesting. The latter include hunting falcon (in northern and northeastern Greenland a white subspecies called Greenland Falcon), pilgrim falcon, sea eagle, mountain owl, isloma, smallmouth, greyhound, six species of geese, prairie deer, eider, mountain ridge, many species of gulls, all of Europe, of which alkek King regionally in immense number, stone-washed, snow and grayish as well as snow and patchwork.

Crustaceans and amphibians are completely missing, but the area housed an interesting amphibian fauna under Devon, with among other things. the so-called four-legged fish (Ichthyoʹstega). The fauna of invertebrates is dominated by mosquitoes, flies, spines, terrestrial jump tails and spiders.

Nature conservation

Northeast Greenland’s national park (972,000 km2; twice larger than Sweden’s surface) is the world’s largest national park and encompasses the whole of northeast Greenland from Scoresby strait in the east to the Hall country in the far northwest. In addition, there is a nature reserve, Melville Bay in the northwest.