Greenland Weather and Climate
General & Geography
Greenland is the largest island on earth and is politically an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Denmark. The country covers more than 2 million square kilometers, but it is only inhabited by around 55,000 people. The low population density is of course also due to the fact that more than 80 percent of the island’s area is permanently in the ice. Greenland borders the (icy) Arctic Ocean in the north and the so-called Greenland Sea in the east.
Other Atlantic seas and straits border Greenland to the west. The island is known for its extremely strong ice sheet, which, despite global warming, often creates gigantic icebergs. Despite the adverse conditions, not only do countless fish species feel comfortable in the waters off Greenland. In fact, there is a very large fauna on the island:
polar bears mainly inhabit the north and northeast, but with the drift ice on the hunt, they also reach the south of Greenland more frequently. Since the 1970s, a stable population of musk oxen has developed in several regions of the island, and large herds of reindeer are also native here.
Tourism in Greenland is developing into an important and growing pillar. Due to the infrastructure, the number of visitors is only around 75,000 tourists a year. However, this value already exceeds the number of residents. Nature lovers in particular get their money’s worth on a Greenland trip.
Greenland has five noteworthy airports which, in addition to domestic routes, are mainly connected to Iceland and Denmark. The largest international airport Kangerlussuaq is the starting point for European visitors (via Copenhagen or Reykjavik) and in the Danish language still bears its former city name as Airport Søndre Strømfjord.
What is the climate like in Greenland?
Greenland has an arctic climate and therefore rarely gets warmer than 10 ° C, even in the summer months. Only in the south of the island and the protected fjords can it sometimes reach temperatures of up to 20 degrees on particularly warm days between June and the beginning of September. The largest part of the country lies in the ice all year round.
Basically, the regions that face the open ocean experience the coolest temperatures and higher rainfall. Especially inland, however, the humidity is very low, so that the low values are seldom perceived as unpleasant or even “beastly cold”. In summer, the low humidity even increases the feeling of warmth.
When is the best time to visit Greenland?
Basically, many Greenland travelers come to Greenland primarily for the spectacular Arctic conditions and the ice. Nevertheless, the climatic conditions in winter are only suitable for a trip to a very limited extent. For trips with the dog sled and ski tours (ideal for example at Maniitsoq, the Apussuit-Glescher and the Ewigkeitsfjord) the season starts in mid- February and reaches its peak from March to mid- May.
Then the temperatures rise noticeably and the short summer in Greenland is knocking on the door from June. Whether round trip, adventure vacation or Arctic cruise: the high season and the best travel time for Greenland runs from around mid-June to mid-September, with July and August are the best months to travel. In the south the ice then loosens, in the north it is a little milder and in the east and west of Greenland we recommend the summer months as the best travel time.
Temperatures, precipitation, sunshine in Nuuk (Greenland)
|Daytime temperature||-4 ° C||-5 ° C||-5 ° C||-1 ° C||4 ° C||8 ° C||11 ° C||10 ° C||6 ° C||2 ° C||-1 ° C||-3 ° C|
|Night temperature||-10 ° C||-11 ° C||-11 ° C||-6 ° C||-2 ° C||1 ° C||4 ° C||4 ° C||2 ° C||-3 ° C||-6 ° C||-9 ° C|
|Water temperature||-1 ° C||-1 ° C||-1 ° C||-1 ° C||0 ° C||1 ° C||1 ° C||2 ° C||2 ° C||1 ° C||1 ° C||0 ° C|
|Precipitation in mm||39||47||50||46||55||62||82||89||88||70||74||54|
|Hours of sunshine||1||2||5||6||6||7||6||5||5||3||1||0|
The annual average temperature in Nuuk is -1.4 ° C. For comparison: Munich reaches an average of 8.6 ° C, in Berlin it is 9.6 ° C. The warmest month is July (6.5 ° C), coldest month of March with average values of -8 ° C. The maximum water temperature in Nuuk is 2 ° C. It’s too cold to bathe.
The annual precipitation is 756 mm on 116 days with precipitation. For comparison: In Munich, 967 mm, in Berlin 570 mm, precipitation is measured annually. There is no rainy season, i.e. months with more than 175 mm of precipitation. Snowfall is possible in all months.
As our climate table shows, June is the sunniest month with an average of 6.8 hours of sunshine per day. On average over the year, the sun shines 3.9 hours per day. For comparison: In Munich and Berlin, the sun shines an average of 4.7 hours per day throughout the year.