Ilulissat literally means “icebergs” in the Greenlandic Inuit language, and in this tiny town in western Greenland in the Kingdom of Denmark can be found one of nature’s wonders, the Ilulissat Icefjord. Named into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2004 what makes the fjord very interesting is its strategic location – as the sea mouth of one of the fastest moving and active glaciers in the world, the Sermeq Kujalleq (also known as the Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier) in the Disco Bay Area. It is reported to move at a speed of about 20 to 35 meters a day and calves about 35 cubic kilometers of ice that passes out of the fjord annually.
The icebergs flow out through an ice stream and some get stranded on the fjord. Over time, this accumulate and thus happens the amazing natural process of the icebergs melting, collapsing and colliding with each other, changing forms and even colors. Aside from the spectacle which has been drawing adventurous tourists from around the world, the Ilulissat Icefjord and its surrounding environs provide critical information about the Inland Ice which is the world’s second largest ice sheet and the only continental ice sheet that exists on the northern hemisphere.
With data that the scientists get from studying the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier and the icefjord, a greater understanding can be reached about climate change, icecap glaciology and how to help preserve the natural conditions around it. Moreover, the icefjord has served as a habitat for marine animals and endangered land mammals such as the polar bear.