Narsarsuaq

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Narsarsuaq
Narsarsuaq and Tunulliarfik Fjord
Narsarsuaq and Tunulliarfik Fjord
Narsarsuaq is located in Greenland
Narsarsuaq
Narsarsuaq
Location within Greenland
Coordinates: 61°08′45″N 45°26′05″W / 61.14583°N 45.43472°W / 61.14583; -45.43472Coordinates: 61°08′45″N 45°26′05″W / 61.14583°N 45.43472°W / 61.14583; -45.43472
State  Kingdom of Denmark
Constituent country  Greenland
Municipality Kujalleq-coat-of-arms.svg Kujalleq
Government[1]
 • Mayor Jørgen Lund
Population (2010)
 • Total 158
Time zone UTC-03
Postal code 3923

Narsarsuaq (lit. Great Plan;[2] old spelling: Narssarssuaq) is a settlement in the Kujalleq municipality in southern Greenland. It had 158 inhabitants in 2010.[3] There is a thriving tourism industry in and around Narsarsuaq, whose attractions include a great diversity of wildlife, gemstones, tours to glaciers, and an airfield museum.

History[edit]

Narsarsuaq valley (Flower valley), seen from Mellemlandet

Narsarsuaq is located within the Eastern Settlement of the Greenlandic Norse; the Brattahlíð farm of Erik the Red established in 875 was located on the opposite bank of Tunulliarfik Fjord, where the modern settlement of Qassiarsuk is situated.[2]

In 1941 the United States built an air base at Narsarsuaq code-named Bluie West One (BW1).(Bluie was the Allied military code name for Greenland.) Thousands of planes used BW1 as a stepping stone on their way from the aircraft factories in North America to the battlegrounds of Europe. A 600-bed hospital was built in order to deal with casualties from the Normandy landings.[2] After the end of the war, BW1 continued to be developed, and was a major hospital site during the Korean War, with the military hospital expanded to 1,000 beds.[2] However, it was rendered surplus by the advent of mid-air refueling and the construction of the larger Thule Air Base in northern Greenland. In 1951, it was agreed that Denmark and the United States would jointly oversee the airbase. Although it closed in 1958, but it was reopened the following year by the Danish government after the loss of the vessel Hans Hedtoft and all crew south off Cape Farewell.[4] The hospital was destroyed by a fire in 1972, although the ruins remain.[2]

Transport[edit]

Narsarsuaq Airport serves as the principal airfield in southwestern Greenland, with seasonal international flights from Iceland operated by Air Iceland and Denmark operated by Jet Time for Air Greenland, feeding the commuter flights from communities of southern Greenland operated by Air Greenland. Small planes crossing the Atlantic sometimes replicate the North Atlantic Ferry Route, stopping at Narsarsuaq Airport and other WWII airfields, including Goose Bay, Newfoundland in Canada and Reykjavík in Iceland.

A 3 mile (5km) gravel road is maintained between Qassiarsuk and Narsarsuaq.[5] There is also a regular boat service to Qaqortoq.

Population[edit]

The population of the settlement is strictly tied to the traffic dynamics at the local airport.[3]

Narsarsuaq population dynamics
Narsarsuaq population dynamics in the last two decades. Source: Statistics Greenland[3]

Climate[edit]

Narsarsuaq experiences boundary subarctic climate (Köppen: Dfc), which barely escapes being classified as polar climate, which is typical for the rest of Greenland. Narsarsuaq is fairly wet, with Atlantic storms pounding the town all year.

Climate data for Narsarsuaq, Greenland
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) −2.6
(27.3)
−2.1
(28.2)
−1.0
(30.2)
3.7
(38.7)
8.9
(48)
12.4
(54.3)
14.3
(57.7)
13.2
(55.8)
9.0
(48.2)
3.8
(38.8)
0.4
(32.7)
−2.1
(28.2)
4.82
(40.67)
Daily mean °C (°F) −6.8
(19.8)
−6.1
(21)
−5.1
(22.8)
−0.1
(31.8)
5.2
(41.4)
8.3
(46.9)
10.3
(50.5)
9.3
(48.7)
5.5
(41.9)
0.4
(32.7)
−3.2
(26.2)
−6.1
(21)
0.97
(33.72)
Average low °C (°F) −11.1
(12)
−10.5
(13.1)
−9.5
(14.9)
−4.4
(24.1)
1.4
(34.5)
4.5
(40.1)
6.4
(43.5)
5.5
(41.9)
2.0
(35.6)
−2.9
(26.8)
−6.9
(19.6)
−10.1
(13.8)
−2.97
(26.66)
Precipitation mm (inches) 38
(1.5)
33
(1.3)
37
(1.46)
42
(1.65)
37
(1.46)
52
(2.05)
65
(2.56)
70
(2.76)
68
(2.68)
51
(2.01)
60
(2.36)
61
(2.4)
615
(24.21)
Avg. precipitation days 7 5 6 6 6 8 9 8 9 7 7 7 85
Mean monthly sunshine hours 26 65 137 168 177 182 192 156 136 94 44 18 1,395
Source: Danmarsk Meteorologiske Institut (period of record 1961-1990; 1980-1999 for sunshine hours) [6]

Arboretum Groenlandicum[edit]

Arboretum Groenlandicum
Trees of Greenland

On the lower slopes of the Mellemlandet ridge, in close proximity to Narsarsuaq Airport, there is a unique 'botanical garden of the Arctic', called Arboretum Groenlandicum.[7] The goal is to establish a live collection of trees and bushes heralding from both the arctic and the alpine tree-lines of the entire Northern Hemisphere.

Founded in 1988, it encompasses 15 hectares and sheltering 110 plant species, mostly varieties of boreal taiga trees, such as Siberian larch, Lodgepole Pine, White Spruce, or Sitka Spruce,[8] and various bushes. Many individual trees are tagged or otherwise marked. The plantation currently has more than 50,000 trees of various provenances.


References[edit]

  1. ^ Kujalleq Municipality (Danish)
  2. ^ a b c d e Facts and History of Narsarsuaq, Narsarsuad Tourist Information
  3. ^ a b c "Statistics Greenland" (in Danish). Statistics Greenland. Retrieved May 9, 2011. 
  4. ^ Dan Ford. "Remembering Bluie West One". WarbirdForum.com. Retrieved May 9, 2011. 
  5. ^ Road distance
  6. ^ Danish Meteorological Institute "Climate normals for Greenland". Danmarsk Meteorologiske Institut. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Københavns Universitiet". University of Copenhagen. Retrieved May 9, 2011. 
  8. ^ Arboretum Groenlandicum documentation, Narsarsuaq