Today was a travel day. We packed up in Sisimiut, said goodbye and headed south. It took two flights, with a stop in the town of Kangerlussuaq, but we made it back to Nuuk with a blue sky and smooth winds.
This morning we bid farewell to Sisimiut, stopping to say goodbye to the Director of the Sisimiut Museum before we left. The day was calm, affording great final views of the harbor.
The two plane rides (first to Kangerlussuaq and then to Nuuk) were uneventful. The day spent in Greenland's quiet, small airports reminded me of a conversation I had this week about the planned expansion of Nuuk airport. As I discovered when booking this trip, currently you can only fly into Greenland from Iceland or Copenhagen. Only small planes can land in Greenland due to the size of landing strips and airport capacity. Expansion due to complete in 2023 or 2024 will extend the runway in Nuuk and make it so that bigger international carriers can have routes to and from Greenland. Its not only the airports I've been in this week that will bring more visitors. Earlier this year, a carnival cruise to Greenland was advertised for 2023. It sold out in less than 48 hours. So much of the conversation this past week has been on tourism and the changes it may bring. Greenland is preparing for visitors, by ship, by plane, and, in the case of the Arctic Circle Trail, by foot. The work to balance a more open Greenland with the desire to protect and preserve what is so special about this island nation seems to be on everyone's mind.
Of course, its not just tourism that may change Greenland. As mentioned in a previous post, arctic countries will experience climate change differently than other nations. A continued rise in global temperatures will impact the northern world in profound ways. Flying over the perfect landscape of uninhabited earth between cities made me wonder what this same route will look like if I return in twenty years. In fifty years? How much of the snow and ice that creates this frozen landscape will be gone? And what will be the ripple effects on the animals, land, plants, and people of Greenland? These themes, tourism and climate change, seem to come up a lot in my thoughts and conversations.
Deep thoughts aside, the day was easy and enjoyable. The forecast this week in Nuuk looks pleasant and we have plenty to keep us busy with some small community events related to Greenland Science Week (including another presentation Thursday). Alice and I ended the day with a home cooked meal (cooked by her). Traveling can mean you go a while without home cooked food, so it always feels special to end the day this way.
I am an anthropology professor, writer, researcher and global traveler. This fall, I will be recording a research trip to Greenland as a virtual field trip for my students (and anyone else interested). Join us as we travel to the Arctic and learn about life in the far north.