Weather and sunlight in Greenland

Greenland has an Arctic climate, but the size of the country causes the weather in Greenland to vary widely. Here, winters can be severely cold and the summers milder than one may think, particularly in areas which are sheltered from the prevailing winds.

In average the temperatures do not exceed 10° C (50° F) in the warmest summer months.

In the southern part of the country and the innermost parts of the long fjords, the temperature can, however, rise to more than 20° C (68° F) in June, July or August. The air is generally very dry in Greenland in relation to many other countries, and because of this low humidity the low temperatures do not feel as cold as you might expect. The low humidity also means that you can see further than you are probably used to.

Examples of temeperature

Qaanaq - North Greenland

In Qaanaaq (Thule), the second most northerly town in the world, located on the north-west coast, at a distance of just 1,300 km (800 mi) from the North Pole, the average temperature goes from -25 °C (-13 °F) in February to 5 °C (41 °F) in July; the coldest record is -43 °C (-45 °F), the highest is 20 °C (68 °F). In return, the area in which this city is located is not very windy. Precipitation amounts to only 120 millimetres (4.7 inches) per year. Sometimes the temperature can drop below freezing even in summer. Here the polar night is long, and it runs from late October to mid-February, although for a few weeks in October and February, when the sun still doesn’t go above the horizon, there’s a glimmer of light around noon; on the other hand, the sun never sets for a very long time, from late April to late August.

Ilulissat

Ilulissat the day lasts 24 hours in June, nearly 24 hours in May and July, and 20 hours in August. On the contrary, in December and January darkness dominates, and the sun rises above the horizon in mid-January. In April, at this point the days are long, even though the temperature is still below freezing. Here the average temperature goes from -14 °C (7 °F) in February, to 8.5 °C (47.5 °F) in July. The thaw occurs in the month of May, while the temperature returns below freezing in late September or early October. The sea at Ilulissat is always very cold; in winter sometimes it freezes completely, at other times it can be partially clear of ice, as in summer.

Kangerlussuaq

The towns located not directly on the coast but within the fjords, are colder in winter, but also a little warmer in summer. For example, in Kangerlussuaq (Sondrestrom), located south of Ilulissat, about 130 km (80 mi) away from the coast, the average temperature goes from -20 °C (-4 °F) in February, to 10 °C (50 °F) in July. Here, the lowest record of the last twenty years is a respectable -46 °C (-51 °F), while the warmest is 23 °C (73 °F).

South Greenland

In South Greenland the average goes from -7 °C (19 °F) in January to 9 °C (48 °F) in July; this south-western area is the warmest of Greenland, at least in the summer, as is also evidenced by the highest temperature of the entire Greenland, which has been recorded here, even 30 °C (86 °F). The average daily temperature is around freezing in April (therefore, a month earlier than in Ilulissat), and it goes back around freezing in the second half of October.