Ilulissat Icefjord

Travel Guide North America Greenland Ilulissat Icefjord



The Ilulissat Icefjord is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is one of a few glaciers through which the Greenland ice cap reaches the sea. It has assumed great importance, due to increasing concerns around climate change. The ice fjord is located on the west coast of Greenland about 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. The Sermeq Kujalleq is one of the fastest (19 metres per day!) and most active glaciers in the world. The glacier has been studied for more than 250 years and this has helped to develop the understanding of climate change and icecap glaciology. This natural phenomenon is an absolute highlight of Greenland.

The Ilulissat Icefjord runs west 40 km from the Greenland ice sheet to Disko Bay just south of Ilulissat town. At its eastern end is the Jakobshavn Isbræ glacier (Greenlandic: Sermeq Kujalleq), the most productive glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. The glacier flows at a rate of 20–35 m per day, resulting in around 20 billion tonnes of icebergs calved off and passing out of the fjord every year.

Icebergs breaking from the glacier are often so large - up to a kilometre in height - that they are too tall to float down the fjord and lie stuck on the bottom of its shallower areas, sometimes for years, until they are broken up by the force of the glacier and icebergs further up the fjord. On breaking up the icebergs emerge into the open sea and initially travel north with ocean currents before turning south and running into the Atlantic Ocean. Larger icebergs typically do not melt until they reach 40-45 degrees north —further south than the United Kingdom and level with New York City.




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This is version 4. Last edited at 10:50 on Oct 31, 19 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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