Located on the west coast of Greenland, 250 km north of the Arctic Circle, Greenland’s Ilulissat Icefjord (40,240 ha) is the sea mouth of Sermeq Kujalleq, one of the few glaciers through which the Greenland ice cap reaches the sea. Sermeq Kujalleq is one of the fastest (19 m per day) and most active glaciers in the world. It annually calves over 35 km3 of ice, i.e. 10% of the production of all Greenland calf ice and more than any other glacier outside Antarctica. Studied for over 250 years, it has helped to develop our understanding of climate change and icecap glaciology. The combination of a huge ice-sheet and the dramatic sounds of a fast-moving glacial ice-stream calving into a fjord covered by icebergs makes for a dramatic and awe-inspiring natural phenomenon.
2017 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
Click the + and - signs to expand or collapse full accounts of information under each topic. You can also view the entire list of information by clicking Expand all on the top left.
Description of values
The only remnant in the Northern Hemisphere of the continental ice sheets from the Quaternary Period
The disturbance is affecting nesting birds and sea life (State Party of Denmark, 2009; WHC, 2007; WHC, 2009). Cruise ships are not permitted within the property and anchoring of boats is also prohibited.
In 2007 the Executive Order no 10 of June 15 2007 on the protection of Ilulissat Icefiord was endorsed by the Parliament in Greenland. This was a revision of the Executive Order no 7 of March 25 2003 with following improvements:
• Traffic in Sermermiut is permitted only on designated paths in the period between April 1 and October 31.
• All navigation with vessels larger than a tonnage of 1,000 Gross Registered Tonnes is prohibited
• Anchoring and laying up boats are prohibited within the protected area
• Restrictions on pitching of tents and use of open fire (maximum 24 hours in the same locality)
Icefjord Office will accumulate and dissipate scientific popular articles about climatic changes in Ilulissat Icefiord. The Icefjord Office will spend the project funding on educational purposes to increase awareness of the values of Ilulissat Icefjord to the local community, Greenlandic public and visitors. Projected educational activities about Ilulissat Icefjord include: Creation of a web page; National TV-broadcast; Creation of a DVD; Signposting in the World Heritage Site.
As of May 2014, there is a detailed website with many information on the site, including access, research and administration.
A significant and unique set of glaciological records and many scientific publications have been written about the site. The site displays most of the surface characteristics of the Greenland ice margin clearly, compactly and accessibly. From the relatively ice-free mid of 18th century onwards, the Icefjord interested many scholars who noted its fluctuations over the years. Studies, especially over the last 10-20 years using aerial photography, core drilling, deep radar sounding and satellite monitoring, have been intensive.
Such research has enlarged understanding of ice-stream dynamics, glacial erosion and deposition, Quaternary geology and prehistoric climates through the examination of ice cores.
Regarding monitoring of the impacts of global climate change, Ilulissat will have much to offer in future as well.
Bamber, J. L., Griggs, J. A., Hurkmans, R. T. W. L., Dowdeswell,
J. A., Gogineni, S. P., Howat, I., Mouginot, J., Paden, J., Palmer,
S., Rignot, E., and Steinhage, D. (2013). A new bed elevation dataset
for Greenland, The Cryosphere, 7, 499–510, doi:10.5194/tc-7-499-2013.
|2||Hellefiskene i Ilulissat, Uummannaq og Upernavik (2012) [website]. <http://www.natur.gl/fisk-og-skaldyr/fisk/hellefisk/hellefis…;. Accessed 28 August 2017.|
|3||IUCN (2004). World Heritage Nomination - IUCN Technical Evaluation, Ilulissat Icefjord (Denmark). Gland, Switzerlnad: IUCN. <http://whc.unesco.org/document/151883> Accessed 28 August 2017.|
|4||Joughin et al., (2013) ‘Influence of ice sheet geometry and supraglacial lakes on seasonal ice-flow variability’, The Cryosphere, 7, 1185-1192|
|5||Joughin, I., Smith, B.E., Shean, D.E., Floricioiu, D. (2014). Brief Communication: Further summer speedup of Jakobshavn Isbræ. The Cryosphere 8, 209-214. <https://www.the-cryosphere.net/8/209/2014/tc-8-209-2014.pdf…; Accessed 28 August 2017.|
|6||State Party of Denmark (2002). Nomination of the Ilulissat Icefjord for inclusion in the World Heritage List. Naja Mikkelsen and Torsten Ingerslev (eds). Copenhagen, Denmark: Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS). <http://whc.unesco.org/uploads/nominations/1149.pdf> Accessed 28 August 2017.|
|7||State Party of Denmark (2009). Report of the State Party to the World Heritage Committee on the state of conservation of Ilulissat Icefjord (Denmark). <http://whc.unesco.org/document/101718> Accessed 28 August 2017.|
|8||Status quo for hellefisk i Vestgrønland (2014) [website] <http://www.natur.gl/kommunikation/nyheder/nyhed/a/status-qu…;. Accessed 28 August 2017.|
|9||World Heritage Committee (2007). Decision 31 COM 7B.28. Ilulissat Icefjord (Denmark). <http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1408> Accessed 28 August 2017.|
|10||World Heritage Committee (2009). Decision 33 COM 7B.23. Ilulissat Icefjord (Denmark). <http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1815> Accessed 28 August 2017.|
|11||World Heritage Committee (2014). Decision 38 COM 8E Ilulissat Icefjord Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (Denmark). <http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6149>. Doha, Qatar. Accessed 28 August 2017.|