Inspiration / Nature / Glaciers

Glaciers

All around Greenland you will find beautiful glaciers that calve icebergs into the fjords and the open sea.

The Greenland Ice Sheet is extremely heavy, which creates high pressure on the flexible ice held within. Around the coast of Greenland, you will find a large number of glaciers where the ice is pushed out into the sea. In this way, the famous and impressive icebergs are born when they break off the ice sheet.

The glaciers lie at the outer edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The glacier ice is formed either by freezing water or when snow is compressed on the inland ice cap. The dark streaks you see on some icebergs are created as the ice scrapes at the ground on their way from land to sea. Many icebergs are also intersected by turquoise, green, or blue bands of pure ice. These bands of ice are formed in the glacier when ice has melted in summer and then freezes again in fall as bubble-free meltwater.

Glacial striations and moraines

You can see if a land area has been covered with ice if you find glacial striations on the hills. These are visible “stripes” on the side of the hills, and they are created from glacial movements. In Greenland, it is very clear to see if a glacier has retreated because the hills around the glacier look quite different.

So-called moraines occur on the edges of glaciers. They consist of piles of, e.g., clay, sand, moraine, and silt. They have been pushed out to the edges of the glacier or washed out below at the glacier edges by the movement of the ice.

Fjords

Ilulissat Ice Fjord is a unique natural phenomenon that you have probably heard of. There are other ice fjords in Greenland that are as impressive as Ilulissat Ice Fjord, but its speed, accessibility, and the fact that it is a UNESCO World Heritage site have made it well-known. Other beautiful ice fjords are Sermilik west of Ammassalik Island, the ice fjords at Paamiut and Nuuk, Qooroq near Narsarsuaq, Bredefjord/Sermilik near Narsaq, and especially the amazingly beautiful Eternity Fjord near Maniitsoq.

It is always very special to see ice fjords from a boat on the water because the masses of ice become so much more impressive when viewed from below.

Ilulissat

Ilulissat Ice Fjord is a unique natural phenomenon, rightly included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The 50-kilometers long fjord is bursting with icebergs and ice floes from the huge glacier, Sermeq Kujalleq, at the head of the fjord. The glacier itself travels 40 meters a day in the summer, making it the fastest glacier in the northern hemisphere.

There is nothing like sitting and watching the fantastic Ice Fjord. However, staying away from the water’s edge is incredibly important, because going there can be fatal. Sudden tsunami-like waves can wash far up on land, and it has happened more than once that people have been caught in the cold water.

Tasiilaq

If you are in the mood for a good and long hike, you can walk up high on the island of Ammassalik, on which the town of Tasiilaq is located. Here, you can look out on the Sermilik Fjord and the Greenland Ice Sheet on the other side of the fjord. A boat trip on the fjord itself is also an excellent way for you to experience ice, as huge icebergs flow out into the sea from the glaciers at the head of the fjord.

South Greenland

In South Greenland, you also have the opportunity to experience the Greenland Ice Sheet up close. There are excursions to the ice from Narsarsuaq, Narsaq, and Qaqortoq.

In the area behind Narsarsuaq Airport, you can hike to a glacier located relatively high up in the countryside. This is not an excursion for people with walking disabilities but, instead, you can go on a boat trip to Qooroq Ice Fjord, which is quite close to the port of Narsarsuaq.

In Narsaq and Qaqortoq, you can also go on boat trips to the Greenland Ice Sheet, which has glaciers at Bredefjord/Sermilik close to Narsaq. The town of Narsaq in the south and Qaanaaq up north are the only towns in Greenland from which you have a direct view of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

“Dead” glaciers

Finally, there are also “dead glaciers” where the ice melts in a meltwater river, for instance. They do not calve icebergs into the water but slowly melt, creating rivers and creeks.

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