Polar Regions

The name Greenland was given by Eric the Red, a Norwegian-born Icelandic settler who was banished from Iceland around the year 982 after committing a murder. He found refuge in Greenland. When his exile was over, he returned to Iceland with stories of a green and fertile land to the north-west to lure potential settlers, hence the name Greenland. Although initially flourishing, the Icelandic settlements disappeared from Greenland around 1400, probably due to a climatic change, the Little Ice-Age. But the Norwegian settlers were certainly not the first humans to have lived on Greenland. For thousands of years Palaeo-Eskimos (the Dorset culture) had been living on the coasts of Greenland: they were finally replaced by Inuit (or Kalaallit as they call themselves in Greenland) around 1300 A.D. The Inuit now make up the majority of the Greenlandic population. The Inuit, the word means "men" in the Inuit language, are nowadays seen as the indigenous people of the North American Arctic. Inuit are traditionally subsistence hunters, living primarily from whales, walruses, Caribou, Musk Oxen, Arctic Foxes, Polar Bears and seals.

Climate - For much of the year the region is locked in by pack-ice, which only by late summer has broken up sufficiently to allow vessels to reach land.

The Greenlandic weather varies enormously depending on where you are on this vast island. Influenced by its high latitude, the gigantic ice-cap and the surrounding oceans and seas, Greenland has an Arctic to High Arctic climate. Still, East Greenland has on average 300 days of sunshine in the year. In August we can expect surprisingly warm daytime temperatures. In Scoresby Sund the average daytime temperatures are between 5 and 9ºC (41 and 48ºF) with the highest observed temperature being 21ºC (70ºF). On a sunny, windless day even 9ºC feels quite warm. By September, autumn rapidly begins to take a hold. Temperatures drop below zero, the sea in sheltered fjords begins to freeze, the winds strengthen and snow can be expected. Still, the low sun gives spectacular sunsets and the snow adds to the Arctic feeling.

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