Greenland is, by area, the world's largest island that is not a continent. It is the least densely populated dependency or country in the world. It has been inhabited, though not continuously, by indigenous peoples since 2500 BC. There were Norse colonies in Greenland from AD 986 until sometime most likely in the 15th century. In the early 18th century contact between Scandinavia and Greenland was re-established and Denmark established rule over Greenland. The majority of Greenland, is less than 1,500 metres (4,921 ft) in elevation.

The weight of the massive Greenland ice sheet has depressed the central land area to form a basin lying more than 300 m (984 ft) below sea level The ice flows generally to the coast from the center of the island. All towns and settlements of Greenland are situated along the ice-free coast, with the population being concentrated along the west coast.

If the Greenland ice sheet were to melt away completely, the world's sea level would rise by more than 7 m (23 feet). Today the glaciers of Greenland are contributing to a rise in the global sea level at a faster rate than was previously believed. Read more

In the News

Giant Predatory Worms Dating Back 518 Million Years Found In Northern Greenland   IFL Science - January 3, 2024

Ancient predatory worms dating back around 518 million years have been discovered in North Greenland, where a treasure trove of Early Cambrian fossils lay in wait in the Sirius Passet Lagerstatte. The new-to-science animals have been named Timorebestia, Latin for 'terror beasts', and their discovery reveals new insights into a curious group of predatory worms that are still alive today.

Earth's Early Magma Oceans Detected In 3.7 Billion Year-Old Greenland Rocks   IFL Science - December 26, 2023

Earth hasn’t always been a blue and green oasis of life in an otherwise inhospitable solar system. During our planet’s first 50 million years, around 4.5 billion years ago, its surface was a hellscape of magma oceans, bubbling and belching with heat from Earth’s interior.

Ancient Soil Found in a Freezer Reveals an Ice-Free Greenland, Hints at Future Risks   Science Alert - July 22, 2023

Greenland has greener history than previously thought   PhysOrg - July 22, 2023
> New analysis of samples collected from underneath Greenland's ice sheet reveal the Arctic island was much greener as recently as 416,000 years ago. The findings overturn previous views that Greenland's continental glacier, which covers about 80 percent of the 836,3000-square-mile land mass, has persisted for the last two and a half million years.

The Greenland Ice Sheet Is Getting Close to a Melting Point of No Return   Science Alert - April 3, 2023

Scientists are increasingly worried about climate tipping points, where certain thresholds are reached that drive further warming. It's almost like a runaway train heading off a cliff – we're getting near the point where it's too late to put the brakes on.

Ice Sheet Collapse at Both Poles to Start Sooner Than Expected, Study Warns   Science Alert - February 27, 2023
Even if we manage to stabilize Earth's temperatures by peaking at 2°C, Greenland's and Antarctica's vast ice sheets are on track for irreversible melting, a new study warns.

Greenland's glaciers are melting 100 times faster than estimated   Live Science - December 22, 2022

Scientists are getting a better handle on how fast Greenland's ice is flowing out to sea. Old models that used Antarctica as a baseline were way off the mark. Greenland's glaciers are melting 100 times faster than previously calculated, according to a new model that takes into account the unique interaction between ice and water at the island’s fjords. The new mathematical representation of glacial melt factors in the latest observations of how ice gets eaten away from the stark vertical faces at the ends of glaciers in Greenland. Previously, scientists used models developed in Antarctica, where glacial tongues float on top of seawater - a very different arrangement.

Arctic 'ghost island' that vanished may have actually been a iceberg grounded at the sea bottom   Live Science - September 15, 2022
In 2021, an expedition off the icy northern Greenland coast spotted what appeared to be a previously uncharted island. It was small and gravelly, and it was declared a contender for the title of the most northerly known land mass in the world. The discoverers named it Qeqertaq Avannarleq - Greenlandic for the northernmost island. But there was a mystery afoot in the region. Just north of Cape Morris Jesup, several other small islands had been discovered over the decades, and then disappeared. hen a team of Swiss and Danish surveyors traveled north to investigate this "ghost islands" phenomenon, they discovered something else entirely. They announced their findings in September 2022: These elusive islands are actually large icebergs grounded at the sea bottom. They likely came from a nearby glacier, where other newly calved icebergs, covered with gravel from landslides, were ready to float off. This was not the first such disappearing act in the high Arctic, or the first need to erase land from the map. Nearly a century ago, an innovative airborne expedition redrew the maps of large swaths of the Barents Sea.

Drought helped push the Vikings out of Greenland, new study finds   Live Science - April 1, 2022

Scientists may have found an important factor behind why the Norse mysteriously abandoned their largest settlement on Greenland. And it wasn't cold weather, as some had long thought. Rather, drought might have played a major role in the abandonment of the Eastern Settlement of Vikings around 1450,

Greenland ice cap loses enough water in 20 years to cover US: study   PhysOrg - February 1, 2022

Greenland's immense ice sheet has lost enough ice in the past 20 years to submerge the entire United States in half a metre of water, according to data released this week by Danish researchers. The climate is warming faster in the Arctic than anywhere else on the planet and melting ice from Greenland is now the main factor in the rise in the Earth's oceans, according to NASA. Since measurements began in 2002, the Greenland ice sheet has lost about 4,700 billion tonnes of ice, said Polar Portal, a joint project involving several Danish Arctic research institutes.

Increased frequency of extreme ice melting in Greenland raises global flood risk   Science Daily - November 2, 2021
Global warming has caused extreme ice melting events in Greenland to become more frequent and more intense over the past 40 years according to new research, raising sea levels and flood risk worldwide.

6 mysterious structures hidden beneath the Greenland ice sheet - August 29, 2021

The Greenland ice sheet hides the longest canyon in the world. Discovered in 2013, the canyon stretches 460 miles (740 kilometers) from the highest point in central Greenland to Petermann Glacier on the northwest coast. That's significantly longer than China's 308-mile-long (496 km) Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, the longest canyon on the planet that you can actually see. The canyon plunges up to 2,600 feet (800 m) deep in places and is 6 miles (10 km) wide. For comparison, the Grand Canyon in Arizona averages about 1 mile (1.6 km) deep and 10 miles (16 km) across. Parts of the canyon may route meltwater from beneath the ice sheet to the sea. It probably formed before the ice sheet and was once the channel for a mighty river. The canyon isn't the only rugged part of Greenland's under-ice landscape. Decades of mapping the island by ice-penetrating radar (which is usually mounted on airplanes) have revealed rugged mountain ranges and plunging fjords beneath the ice sheet.

Greenland melting likely increased by bacteria in sediment   PhysOrg - January 14, 2021

Bacteria are likely triggering greater melting on the Greenland ice sheet, possibly increasing the island's contribution to sea-level rise, according to Rutgers scientists. That's because the microbes cause sunlight-absorbing sediment to clump together and accumulate in the meltwater streams.

Towering ice arches in the Arctic are melting, putting 'Last Ice Area' at risk of vanishing   Live Science - January 12, 2021

The world's thickest and oldest sea ice is at risk of being lost as the towering ice arches holding it in place experience rapid melting, twice as fast as the rest of the Arctic. The stretch of multiyear sea ice between the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Greenland - which can stay frozen for more than one melt season - is known as the "Last Ice Area" by scientists. Like all sea ice, it grows and shrinks with the seasons, but has so far lasted through even the warmest summers on record and was expected to endure warming temperatures longer than anywhere else in the Arctic.

Ancient Lake Discovered Under Greenland May Be Millions of Years Old, Scientists Say   Science Alert - November 11, 2020
The remains of a giant, ancient lake have been discovered under Greenland, buried deep below the ice sheet in the northwest of the country and estimated to be hundreds of thousands of years old, if not millions, scientists say. The huge 'fossil lake bed' is a phenomenon the likes of which scientists haven't seen before in this part of the world, even though we know the colossal Greenland Ice Sheet (the world's second largest, after Antarctica's) remains full of mysteries hidden under its frozen lid while shedding mass at an alarming pace. Last year, scientists reported the discovery of over 50 subglacial lakes beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet: bodies of thawed liquid water trapped between bedrock and the ice sheet overhead. The new find is of a different nature: an ancient lake basin, long dry and now full of eons of sedimentary infill - loose rock measuring up to 1.2 kilometres (three-quarters of a mile) thick- and then covered by another 1.8 kilometres of ice.

Greenland ice melt is changing the shape of its coastline   Live Science - October 30, 2020

Rapid melt is reshaping coastal Greenland, potentially altering the human and animal ecosystems along the country's coast. New research finds that the ice retreat in Greenland has changed the way glaciers flow and where they dump into the sea. These changes could impact ice loss from Greenland in the future, the researchers wrote. Rapid melt is reshaping coastal Greenland, potentially altering the human and animal ecosystems along the country's coast. New research finds that the ice retreat in Greenland has changed the way glaciers flow and where they dump into the sea. These changes could impact ice loss from Greenland in the future, the researchers wrote.

'Unprecedented' ice loss as Greenland breaks record   BBC - August 20, 2020
Scientists say the loss of ice in Greenland lurched forward again last year, breaking the previous record by 15%. A new analysis says that the scale of the melt was "unprecedented" in records dating back to 1948.

Greenland Is Literally Cracking Apart and Flooding the World   Live Science - March 16, 2018

Visit Greenland on the right summer day, and you could see a 12-billion-gallon lake disappear before your very eyes. Glaciologists saw this happen for the first time in 2006, when a 2.2-square-mile (5.6 square kilometers) lake of melted ice drained away into nothing in less than 2 hours. Researchers now see such events as a regular part of Greenland's increasingly hot summer routine; every year, thousands of temporary lakes pop up on Greenland's surface as the surrounding ice melts, sit around for a few weeks or months, and then suddenly drain away through cracks in the ice sheet underneath. On a recent expedition, however, researchers saw an alarming new pattern behind Greenland's mysterious disappearing lakes: They're starting to drain farther and farther inland. That's because the summer lakes of Greenland drain in a "cascading" chain reaction enabled by a vast, interconnected web of cracks below the ice - and as temperatures climb, the web is getting wider.

Half a billion-year-old brains of terrifying sea monsters related to today's spiders and insects are found perfectly preserved in Greenland   Daily Mail - March 16, 2018
The half a billion-year-old brains and nervous systems of 15 ancestors of modern-day spiders and insects have been found in the frozen shale of Greenland. The brains and nervous tissue belong to a type of marine predator known as Kerygmachela kierkegaardi which existed around 521 and 514 million years ago. These sea monsters are believed to have had two long appendages on their head, 11 swimming flaps and a skinny tail to help them hunt their prey. Unlike the human brain, which has three segments, the fossilized brains of these predators only had a single segment.

'Jellyroll' Ice Sculptures Discovered Under Greenland Ice Sheet   Live Science - June 17, 2014

The Greenland ice sheet may look like a vast expanse of white, but scientists peering beneath the smooth veil have found a fun house of sorts, full of giant jellyroll-like ice sculptures that could rival city skyscrapers in height and the whole of Manhattan in width.