For many scientists, Greenland is considered “ground zero” for climate change, a place where global warming’s impact is most apparent — and where the effects of rising temperatures, warming oceans and melting ice could have the most dire consequences. But for the 55,000 people who make their home on this massive, ice-covered island, an autonomous Danish territory, the realities of climate change are complex, bringing both unexpected benefits and acute challenges, NBC News reports.
Across the island, the unprecedented melting of Greenland’s glaciers is opening up new waterways for fishing and tourism. In Ilulissat, in West Greenland, these industries have thrived in recent years, bringing considerable wealth to the town.
But elsewhere, particularly in East Greenland, the shorter winters and longer, warmer summers have endangered hunting, dogsledding and other traditional ways of life for Greenland’s roughly 50,000 Inuits.
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“We're seeing unprecedented melting of the ice sheet right now, and Greenland's ice sheet is at the center of everything,” said Thomas Juul-Pedersen, a scientist and education coordinator at the Greenland Climate Research Centre in Nuuk, the country’s capital. “That can potentially have a big impact on Greenland and a big impact on the livelihood of the people here.”