Icy Island Warms to Climate Change

The harbor at Ilulissat, Greenland, 170 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is no longer icebound in the winter, so fishermen can use boats all year.The biggest island in the world is a wind-raked place, gripped by ice over four-fifths of its land, prowled by polar bears, its coastlines choked by drifting icebergs and sea ice.

Many of its 56,000 people, who live on the fringes of its giant ice cap, see the effects of global warming — and cheer it on.”It’s good for me,” said Ernst Lund, a lanky young man who is one of 51 farmers raising sheep on the southern tip of Greenland.

His animals scramble over the cold granite hills of a dramatic fiord, his farm isolated from the nearest town by a long boat ride threading past drifting mounds of ice, followed by a jolting truck trip along seven miles of gravel road.

“I can keep the sheep out two weeks longer to feed in hills in the autumn. And I can grow more hay. The sheep get fatter,” he said.

In few parts of the world is climate change more real — and personal — than here. The Arctic is feeling the globe’s fastest warming. At a science station in the ice-covered interior of Greenland, average winter temperatures rose nearly 11 degrees Fahrenheit from 1991 to 2003. Winters are shorter, ice is melting, and fish and animals are on the move.

Source:  Washington Post

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