A group of explorers and scientists from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) who were conducting an expedition to the far north of Greenland in July, by chance discovered a small island that may be the northernmost piece of land on planet Earth.
At first, the find extends the borders of the territory of Greenland, autonomous region of the Kingdom of Denmark.
Newly discovered island in the Arctic (credits: Morten Rasch)
“Discovering a new island was not our goal,” he acknowledged to the agency Reuters Arctic Research Station Director Morten Rasch. The polar explorer explained that the purpose of the expedition was simply to collect samples from what they thought was the northernmost island in the world: Oodaaq. However, changes in the ice cover revealed that they were not only 780 meters north of the surveyed island, but were stepping on autonomous ground.
The new, as-yet-unnamed island has an area of just 30 by 60 meters and is basically made up of small piles of gravel and silt (fine rock fragments) that may have been pushed out of the seabed by a major storm. With a relief whose altitude varies between three to four meters above sea level, the island formation is considered by Rasch as a “short-lived islet”.
In a press release released by the University of Copenhagen, Morten Rasch, who is also a professor in the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources Management, explains that everyone was right to be on the island of Oodaaq, hitherto the northernmost island in the world. But as soon as he posted the island’s photos and coordinates on social media, “a lot of American island hunters freaked out, and said it couldn’t be true.”
Landscape in Umanaq Bay in the Arctic (credits: Tetyana Dotsenko/Shutterstock)
These “island hunters,” mostly amateur adventurers looking for as-yet-unknown island formations, began to react so passionately on social media that Rasch and his team decided to turn to an expert at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). While waiting for DTU, they noticed that the GPS was wrong, and that they were already far from Oodaaq. “We’ve expanded the realm slightly,” joked Rasch.
Now, the researchers are pressuring authorities to have the island they discovered called “Qeqertaq Avannarleq”, which means “northern island” in the Greenlandic language. At least until she disappears in the next storm.