Scoresby Sund

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Scoresby Sund
Scoresby Sund is at the bottom of this satellite image
Basin countries Greenland
Average depth 500 m (1,640 ft)
Max. depth 1,450 m (4,757 ft)
References [1]

Scoresby Sund (English: Scoresby Sound, Greenlandic: Kangertittivaq) is an inlet system of the Greenland Sea on the eastern coast of Greenland. It has a tree-like structure, with a main body approximately 110 km (68 mi)[2] long that branches into a system of fjords covering an area of about 38,000 km2 (14,700 sq mi). The longest of these extends 340–350 km (210-216 mi) in from the coastline.[1] The depth is 400–600 m (1,310-1,970 ft) in the main body, but this increases to up to 1,450 m (4,760 ft) in the fjords.[1] It is the largest and longest fjord system in the world.[3][4][5]

The name honours the English explorer William Scoresby, who in 1822 mapped the fjord area in great detail. Numerous islands are present. The largest, Milne Land, has an area of 3,913 km2 (1,511 sq mi) and is located in the middle of the inlet. On the northern side of the mouth stands Ittoqqortoormiit, the only permanent settlement in the region, with a population of 469 (in 2010).


Scoresby Sund

The mouth is 29 km wide between the Kangikajik (Kap Brewster, 70°09'N) and Uunarteq (Kap Tobin 70°24'N). Its southern part is a steep, 1000–2000 m (3,280-6,560 ft) tall wall of basalt, and the northern side is lower and more rounded. The mouth extends for about 110 km (68 mi) to the west, slightly turns north, widens, and forms a basin called Hall Bredning. From there, the inlet splits into several branches including the Nordwestfjord, Øfjord (which splits into the Rypefjord and Harefjord), Røde Fjord, Gasefjord and Fønfjord. Between the Øfjord and Fønfjord lies the largest island of the system, Milne Land. The land surrounding the fjord is mostly mountainous, with steeply rising edges.[3]


The climate is Arctic, with the long cold winter and severe storms. The temperatures of January–March vary between –22.5 °C (-8.5 °F) and –8.4 °C (16.9 °F) with the average between –15 °C (5° F) and –18 °C (0° F) over the period 1971–1981. The mean summer temperatures are below 5 °C (41 °F).[6] Precipitation is low, at about 30 mm (12 in) per month.[7] Tides are semidiurnal, with the amplitude of 1.3 meters (4 ft 4 in).[1]

Climate data for the Scoresby Sund
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) −16
Average precipitation mm (inches) 20
Source: Scoresby Sund climate[6]


Tundra vegetation at Sydkap, inner Scoresby Sund

The fauna of the region is unusually rich for Greenland. This is because of several factors, such as availability of open water in the mouth, with polynyas not freezing even in winter, protection from the winds by the high relief, and relatively fertile land. The land animals include muskox, Arctic fox, stoat, Mountain Hare and lemming.[7] Reindeer and Arctic wolf used to live in the area, but disappeared around the early 20th century.[8]

Birds are represented by barnacle goose, pink-footed goose, snow goose, whooper swan, king eider, common eider, long-tailed duck, Brunnich's guillemot, black guillemot, little auk, puffin, fulmar, herring gull, glaucous gull, great black-backed gull, kittiwake, Arctic tern, red-throated diver, great northern diver, red-breasted merganser, ptarmigan, raven, snowy owl, Greenlandic gyrfalcon, etc. Most of them are migrating species and form large colonies which may contain up to millions of individuals (for little auk).[9]

Fishes of the area include Arctic char, Greenland halibut, polar cod, cuttlefish, wolf fish, sea scorpion and Greenland shark.[10] Aquatic mammals are dominated by seals (ringed, hooded, harbor, bearded and harp seal) which feed on fish in winter (mostly polar cod) and crustaceans in summer.[11] Larger species include Atlantic walrus, narwhal and sometimes beluga whale. Atlantic walrus feeds on mussels, fish and ringed seals that urges ringed seals to disappear from the area when walruses stay there for prolonged periods.[11] Narwhals consume polar cod, Greenland halibut, cuttlefish and pelegaec crustaceans.[12]

Ovibos moschatus qtl3.jpg Polarfuchs 1 2004-11-17.jpg AlleAlle 2.jpg Puffin Latrabjarg Iceland.jpg Mustela erminea upright.jpg
Muskox Arctic fox Little auk Atlantic puffin stoat


Greenland-iceportal hg.jpg Greenland2.1ac.jpg Ittoqqortoormiit coast hg.jpg
Scoresby Sund Icebergs in July, 1970 View of Ittoqqortoormiit in summer


  1. ^ a b c d "Scoresby Sund" (in Russian). Great Soviet Encyclopedia. 
  2. ^ Scoresby Sund, Encyclopædia Britannica on-line
  3. ^ a b Archaeology, p. 7
  4. ^ Piotr Migoń (2010). Geomorphological Landscapes of the World. Springer. p. 227. ISBN 90-481-3054-9. 
  5. ^ "NOAA (public domain) satellite photo of Scoresby Sound in Autumn as icebergs start forming". 
  6. ^ a b Archaeology, p. 8
  7. ^ a b Archaeology, p. 11
  8. ^ Archaeology, p. 18
  9. ^ Archaeology, pp. 19-20
  10. ^ Archaeology, p. 21
  11. ^ a b Archaeology, pp. 12-14
  12. ^ Archaeology, p. 15


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 70°30′N 25°00′W / 70.500°N 25.000°W / 70.500; -25.000