Ilulissat Icefjord is one of the most fragile natural wonders on the planet. It’s breathtaking and even better in real life
Ice bumbs against the hull of the boat we’re in. I’m standing in the front admiring the icebergs glitter in the sun. As far as I can see, icebergs are floating in the freezing water and the only thing I hear is ice cracking and the chugging from the boat’s engine.
I feel the cold air in my nostrils as we slowly sails by icebergs in the heavy weight class. I’m amazed by its beauty, but a bit scared at the same time. Thoughts about Titanic come to my mind as we sail up close the biggest chunks of ice I’ve ever seen.
This place is where icebergs are born. The Illulissat Icefjord, located 350 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004 and is today Greenland’s greatest attraction.
At the base of the fjord you’ll find Sermeq Kulalleq, which is the fastest glacier in the northern hemisphere, moving 40 meters a day.
Due to climate changes, the fjord is longer than ever. In just 10-15 years the fjord has become 10 kilometers longer being 55 kilometers today.
We have been on the water for about an hour when two humpback whales accompanies us. They swim next to the boat, exhaling and blowing water into the frosty air. The whales are enormous yet peaceful and they seem to be used to humans hunting icebergs.
After a short time they dip below the surface and moments later appear in front of the boat with a splash. Despite my 1.93 meters I feel small out here among icebergs and one of the planet’s biggest animals.
Where icebergs are born
The ice seem endless, and with good reason! Every year Semeq Kulalleq produces 20 billion tons of ice by dumping it into the water – equals to 10 percent of all Greenlandic icebergs. The six kilometers wide glacier runs from one of the planets biggest chunks of ice - the Greenlandic Ice Cap.
The kilometers thick ice cap consists of 2.8 million cubic meters of ice. If all of that ice melted, the world's oceans would rise with 7,2 meters. That's almost four times the height of an average man.
Our boat stops for a moment so we can experience the sounds of Ilulissat Icefjord. Without the chugging of the boat engine, the sounds are suddenly clear – popping air as it escapes from the ice, icebergs colliding on their way through the fjord, and waves crashing when they hit the ice.
The chugging stats again and we slowly return to the town of Ilulissat throough the maze of ice.