Updated: Sep 28, 2021
Tucked between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Ocean (it is an autonomous territory of the Kingdom of Denmark), this group of 18 volcanic islands is our first stop of our mission.
Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic Ocean and the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Iceland is the only part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that rises above sea-level, and its central volcanic plateau is erupting almost constantly. The interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, and many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, and most of its islands have a polar climate.
MODIS image, Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC.
Greenland is the world's largest island, located between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Greenland is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark. The majority of its residents are Inuit, whose ancestors migrated from Alaska through Northern Canada, gradually settling across the island by the 13th century. Three-quarters of Greenland is covered by the only permanent ice sheet outside of Antarctica. With a population of 56,081 (2020), it is the least densely populated region in the world. Greenland has been inhabited at intervals over at least the last 4,500 years by Arctic peoples whose forebears migrated there from what is now Canada. Inuit peoples arrived in the 13th century and today face many changes to their homes and environment. Part of our mission is to approach and meet Inuits.
Tasiilaq, formerly Ammassalik and Angmagssalik, is a town in the Sermersooq municipality in southeastern Greenland. With 1,985 inhabitants as of 2020, it is the most populous community on the eastern coast.
Ilulissat, formerly Jakobshavn or Jacobshaven, is the municipal seat and largest town of the Avannaata municipality in western Greenland, located approximately 350 km (220 mi) north of the Arctic Circle. With the population of 4,670 as of 2020, it is the third-largest city in Greenland. The city is home to almost as many sled-dogs as people.
In this image by ESA, captured on 27 July 2019, sea ice can be seen in the waterways of the Canadian Archipelago.
Arctic Archipelago - Canada
Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Most of the archipelago is part of Nunavut – the largest and northernmost territory of Canada. The archipelago covers an area of around 1.500.000 sq km and consists of 94 major islands and more than 36.000 minor ones. The various islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago are separated by a series of waterways collectively known as the Northwest Passage. In the past, the Northwest Passage has been impassable owing to its thick, year-round sea ice. However, owing to significant changes in the Arctic climate, summer sea ice has decreased substantially and has led to an increasing number of vessels navigating through this once-impossible route.
The Northwest Passage is the sea route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the Arctic ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The various islands of the archipelago are separated from one another and from Mainland Canada by a series of Arctic waterways collectively known as the Northwest Passages or Northwestern Passages. For centuries, explorers have tested the icy waters of the Arctic, looking for sea routes through the cluster of islands north of mainland Canada. The Northwest Passage is only open to cross it from July to September, when it is the only time average temperatures are above freezing, and the ice has receded enough to allow ships to navigate narrow channels. Located 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of the Arctic Circle and less than 1,930 kilometers (1,200 miles) from the North Pole, this sea route poses significant challenges.
Pond Inlet, Nunavut
Situated near scenic fjords, glaciers and icebergs, Pond Inlet is famous as a great place to see large pods of narwhal.
Resolute Bay, Nunavut
Resolute is the second most northerly community in Nunavut and Canada. Resolute Bay is home to some of the greatest Inuit hunters in the world. This High Arctic hamlet with its airport often serves as a starting point for international scientific research teams and extreme adventure expeditions to the North Pole.
Gjoa Haven, Nunavut
Gjoa Haven is located on the southeast coast of King William Island at the heart of the Northwest Passage. The area is the traditional territory of the Netsilik Inuit, and fishing, hunting and carving are the sources of livelihood of the mostly Inuit population.
Cambridge Bay, Nunavut
Cambridge Bay is a hamlet located on Victoria Island in the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is the largest settlement on Victoria Island. Cambridge Bay is the largest stop for passenger and research vessels traversing the Arctic Ocean's Northwest Passage. Cambridge Bay enjoys constant 24-hour sunshine from May 20 to July 23. The Inuit people of Cambridge Bay, from the eastern and southern parts of Victoria Island, speak Inuinnaqtun — a different language from Inuktitut — because they are Copper Inuit people, descendants of the ancient Thule with their own distinct and unique traditions.
Northwest Passage - NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCE and GIBS/Worldview.