The Arctic is changing rapidly. It’s warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet.
The seasonal sea-ice is in long-term decline and the ice sheet that sits atop Greenland is losing mass at a rate of about 280 billion tonnes a year.
So, if you choose to make a map of the region, you start from the recognition that what you’re producing can only be a snapshot that will need to be updated in the relatively near future.
Laura Gerrish, a geographical information systems and mapping specialist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), knows this. Polar science and polar cartography are all about tracing change.
Laura has just finished making a exquisite new printed sheet map (1:4,000,000) of Greenland.
The detail is a delight – from the winding path of all the fjords and inlets, to the precise positioning of current ice margins, and the use of all those tongue-twisting Greenlandic names.
The Arctic is changing rapidly. It’s warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet.“The map is a little unusual because the area has not been shown on one sheet like this before,” explains Laura.
“We have good maps, obviously, of Europe, of Iceland, of Svalbard – but there is nothing that puts them all together on one sheet and shows their relationship like this.
“The map is aimed at scientists, clearly; BAS is a scientific organisation. But we hope tourists on cruise ships and any visitors to Greenland will find it useful, as well as schools or anyone with an interest in the Arctic.”
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Greenland And The European Arctic, to give the map its full title, has taken nearly two years to put together.
Laura has had to call on more than a