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.
11/8/2021 06:42:33 pm
One the meal looks delicious to be honest!!!! Also you're observation on how it'll look in 20 or so years my question is there programs over there try to study about that problem of global warming? like more first hand or research teams because Greenland has a lot of ice landscape. The pictures are beautiful also by the way! I would love to take photos there!
11/9/2021 03:34:37 am
Lots! Since I cannot attend all of the events of Greenland Science Week sharing these studies firsthand, I will share the titles with you guys this week so you can at least see some of the teams studying this topic and others!
11/8/2021 06:49:45 pm
Finding a healthy balance to accommodate the increase in ship, plane, and foot traffic to Greenland will be challenging. As someone who worked as an entertainer on a cruise ship, I will tell you that cruises to cold regions are just as popular as they are to the Caribbean. Therefore, I am not surprised that Carnival sold out so quickly. I would imagine that the rare opportunity to get a glimpse and photograph of the Aurora Borealis is likely a big draw. Many cruises are designed in such a way that it is more about the activities on the ship and the sights from the ship than the destination.
11/9/2021 03:38:18 am
You touch on a really important point Charlie, how cruise ships can be more about the ship than the destination. If you only eat, spend money, and interact on the ship, the host country received very little benefit. Instead, they may suffer negative consequences such as polluting water and other environmental damages that can happen when hundreds of passengers disembark on a site all at once without the knowledge of where they need to be careful and such. There are teams here working on problems like this!
11/8/2021 07:14:54 pm
I do hope the Greenland can strike the right balance between tourism and protecting its natural beauty. Opening up to the world can often leads to the world trampling over smaller countries. I also hope that we will be able to lessen the effects of climate change. Greenland is one of the landmasses most affected by climate change right now I believe, with more of its ice sheet melting away in comparison to other places like Antarctica.
11/8/2021 07:57:25 pm
I know that I have said it multiple times now but, these views are astonishing! I think that looking at how tourism can have an impact on things like climate is actually something that not many people think about in terms of how one can be gravely impacted from the other. I believe that when it comes to discussing climate change and looking at what influences it, we tend to look at or think of every possible example except for tourism. Sort of like we know its there but we don't want to address it. As for the home cooked meal prepared by Chef Alice, it definitely looks delicious!!
11/9/2021 03:42:55 am
There are some interesting projects starting up to address the connection between science (like climate change) and tourism! Hans, one of my project partners, works on a team called SciTour that is investigating ways to make tourism more sustainable in the arctic by designing opportunities for visitors to learn about topics like climate change while traveling. There are also expedition cruise lines that spend a lot of time designing travel that is sustainable and protective of the environments they go to. Here's hoping there are more of these initiatives in the future!
11/9/2021 08:01:10 am
The view is amazing in your photos of Sisimuit. It makes a lot of sense that the airports in Greenland are small due to a smaller population. I think it is amazing that the runway is getting extended. I think a lot more people will like to visit Greenland in the future. The more I learn about it, the more interested I am in visiting some day. It’s pretty cool that the tickets to the carnival cruise to Greenland that’s going to happen in 2023 sold out so fast. It is unfortunate climate change is happening. I also wonder how different Greenland and the rest of the article circle will be in future years. I think many animals and plants will suffer from it. Maybe some will adapt as well. I can’t get over how beautiful Greenland is. It must have been breath taking to see Greenland below while in the plane.
Brianna N Novotny
11/9/2021 02:54:01 pm
That meal looks delicious! Having a good meal and a beautiful view is a great way to end the day! It is crazy how climate change can affect areas like this. People do not think about what will happen to places like Greenland if we do not do something about it. Hopefully we will be able to preserve places like this.
11/9/2021 03:53:22 pm
I love all of the images posted in these blogs, they're all so beautiful. I knew that one had to travel by plane to reach other cities within Greenland but I actually never really thought about what was in between city to city. Since the land is uninhabited, are you able to physically visit this land? are there trails to hike within this land or is the terrain to dangerous for these activities?
11/14/2021 06:13:50 am
People do use the land between cities. Hunting as either a part time or full time way to support yourself is very common. There are some trails that are meant for adventurous tourists, researchers, etc. These are mostly focused around the coast however, since as you move inland you will hit the inland ice/ice sheet. You can go up on the ice sheet however and some people will travel across it (especially for research). It certainly can be dangerous due to weather, wildlife (especially polar bears), and lack of resources, but there is plenty of activity in these wild lands between the cities too.
11/10/2021 01:26:45 pm
Beautiful pictures once again! You said its not just airports that bring in tourists and I have noticed when looking to book trips cruises have become more and more popular over the years. Smaller airports in Greenland makes sense due to smaller community populations but tiny little hopper planes always make me so nervous. What are some things you worry about when traveling?
11/10/2021 08:44:38 pm
I am concerned about climate change and I wish everybody else concerned for a change as well. I feel that if all the ice ever melts , would it ever cause a flood. what would happen to the oceans. what can actually be done to stop climate change .im wondering would the animals thrive better if the ice melts, but more so only the animals tat swim. I also wonder about how easy it would be for the animals to adapt to warm weather.
11/12/2021 09:49:52 am
I love seeing the pictures you've been posting since being there. I don't think I've ever realized how beautiful and expansive Greenland is. Increasing tourism I think is a great idea but one that needs to be clearly throughout. Having a good plan as to what is to be expected within the next couple years would help secure doubts from the citizens of Greenland
11/12/2021 07:33:48 pm
As always the photos of Greenland are just simply beautiful. I knew you of course had to get to Greenland via plane, but I never knew that it had to be a small one. It does make a lot of sense though so I'm surprised I never really thought of it before. Expanding airports and bringing in cruises is definitely something interesting for the future. I really hope that they can find a nice in-between for increased tourism and protection & preservation.
11/14/2021 08:31:46 pm
I love seeing the view of the frozen land below as you guys flew to your next stop, it's absolutely gorgeous there! Also I envy you getting to try new foods, it all looks so delicious! I hope that more people will get to visit someday but at the same time I don't want the culture and beauty of the landscape to be ruined just for some tourists.
11/15/2021 05:06:33 pm
I know having that home cooked meal was rejuvenating and refreshing. I absolutely love some good pasta. For the cruise in 2023, Im shocked that it sold out in less than 48 hours. I wouldn't imagine people wanting to take a cruise to Greenland, but im excited for it. Im also excited for the expansion of the runways at the airports. These will definitely bring more people to Greenland and allow them to educate themselves on the people there and their history.
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I am an anthropology professor, writer, researcher and global traveler. In fall of 2021, I led an experiential eLearning project connecting US students (and others) with the people, places, and industries of Greenland. I redesigned a research trip into a virtual field trip for my students who didn't have any Study Abroad options. All of the videos, photos, interviews, and storytelling are still here to enjoy!