Greenlandic Greetings!

 Arrival at the Nuuk Airport.

Arrival at the Nuuk Airport.

After a 7 hour flight to Reykjavik, an hour bus ride, another flight, a taxi, and a walk - we finally made it Greenland! We're getting ready to listen to talks and present at the Polar and Alpine Microbiology (PAM) conference, taking place at the Katuaq - also known as the Nuuk Cultural Center.

 

Our arrival to Nuuk two days before the conference gives us the opportunity to explore the town and surrounding nature - something that's welcome, as I've never seen Greenland quite so green before. The last time our lab was here (2015) was during the month of March - the coldest point of the year for Nuuk - and every rooftop, mountain crag, and street corner was covered in pristine white snow. 

 

 A less-than-perfect mash up of a picture I took in Nuuk yesterday (left, no snow) and in March of 2015 (right, with snow).

A less-than-perfect mash up of a picture I took in Nuuk yesterday (left, no snow) and in March of 2015 (right, with snow).

 Location of Nuuk in Greenland,   Image from BBC

Location of Nuuk in Greenland,  Image from BBC

Entirely reputable sources on Wikipedia say Nuuk was founded as the Danish port of Godt Haab in 1728 to relocate the earlier Hope Colony, which was founded by Hans Egede. You wouldn't know from looking around Nuuk that the town wasn't actually founded by Hans himself (submitted for evidence is a photo of a 12 foot statue of Hans), but rather a guy named Claus Paarss. Eponymous statues, buildings, and roads honoring Egede, a lutheran missionary, are ubiquitous in Nuuk. Of course, this part of West Greenland has been inhabited throughout history by Dorest, Inuit, and Viking people in various succession.

 

 Hans Egede surveying the town he didn't found.

Hans Egede surveying the town he didn't found.

Skip over three hundred years of history to 2017 and Nuuk is a surprisingly cosmopolitan city of about 17,000 people, mostly native Inuit but with many Danes as well. The city is growing fast - since 2000, it's increased its population by over 20% (info from Statbank Greenland). Compare that to Seattle - which has added about 140 000  people since the beginning of it's growth spurt in 2000, accounting for a 25% growth.

 Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (center, red jacket) in Nuuk, 2011 for the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting. US Senator from Alaska Lisa Murkowski is to the right of Secretary Clinton, in the gray jacket.  Image from US State Department

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (center, red jacket) in Nuuk, 2011 for the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting. US Senator from Alaska Lisa Murkowski is to the right of Secretary Clinton, in the gray jacket. Image from US State Department

One of the coolest things for someone interested in Arctic policy and science (me!) is that Nuuk has a strong place in circumpolar politics and field research. In fact, in 2011 the Arctic Council held its biennial summit here in Nuuk - resulting in this picture of Arctic Ministers and other state officials in front of the Katuaq. You'll notice the our then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton right in the middle. Send our Secretary of State to a Ministerial Meeting for the first time in 2011 was an important signal of the United States' growing interest in the Arctic - an interest we continued by sending John Kerry to Kiruna, Sweden (2013) and Iqaluit, Canada (2015, where Canada handed the rotating 2-year Chairmanship to the US), and most recently Rex Tillerson to Fairbanks, Alaska (in May of 2017, where the United States handed the Chairmanship over to Finland).

The Ministerial Meeting in Nuuk also result in the Nuuk Declaration, presented to us on this flashy yellow paper.