Victim of global warming, Greenland fact, at least in the short term, the bet he recèlera few strengths through diversification of its ecosystem to boost agriculture, fisheries and exports.
This vast territory is on the front line of the melting of Arctic ice, almost visible by the naked eye.
The satellite observation shows that the ice cap (ice sheet), which represents between 6 and 7% of the freshwater resources of the world and covers four fifths of the island, is reduced to about 200 km3 (200 gigatonnes) per year.
And glaciers, the loss dangerously contributes to rising sea levels, melted twice as fast between 2003 and 2010 than during the entire twentieth century, according to European and Canadian research published by the scientific journal Nature.
“It’s very nice to be able to offer tuna and freshly caught mackerel,” is nevertheless glad Bjørn Johansen, head chef of the largest hotel in the capital Nuuk, the Hans Egede.
In the summer, the fishermen back in their nets mackerel and bluefin tuna strayed near the eastern coast of the island, thousands of nautical miles of the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Mexico where they usually live.
“If the summer temperatures continue to rise over the century (…) it is likely that bluefin tuna becomes a frequent waters east of Greenland,” even advance a marine professor of ecology Technological University of Denmark, Brian MacKenzie.
Arctic white desert and largest island in the world after Australia with 2.2 million km2, Greenland depends for its exports of live shrimp and financial allocations of Denmark, which is an autonomous territory.
Nicknamed “pink gold”, shrimp accounts for 47% of exports. The annual subsidy Copenhagen feeds half the territory budget. Formerly variable, it now has a fixed amount whose value is eroded with inflation.
Greenland, struggling with aging and unemployment, banked on its mineral wealth. But lower commodity prices caused a drop in exploration investment.
– Mineral fertilizers –
At first glance, the rise of the thermometer is an aggravating factor for the local economy, threatening the livelihoods of many Greenlanders traditional lifestyle.
Inuit who travel by sled to fish or hunt on the ice see the shortened seasons. And tourism sector that the government would like to develop, remains embryonic, while also suffering from thawing.
In the Ilulissat Icefjord, World Heritage, calving (when blocks of ice break off the glacier) is sometimes so important that the cruise ships have trouble disembarking tourists.
But looking closer, there is a profit to be climate pangs.
Melting glaciers leave such escape a sort of rock flour, rich in minerals that will be used as fertilizer for depleted soils or arid, Africa or South America, for example.
The substance irritates the Greenlanders because it clogs the fjords. So “as she goes to do good around the world,” Minik Rosing launches, geology professor who heads the research firm Greenland Perspective.
The scientist calculated that shipping a ton of this “flour” had no negative impact on the climate if the journey did not exceed 12,000 kilometers, ie to Kenya for example.
Other export project: potato plants. In the south of the territory, they develop more generously with rising temperatures.
The researchers were also able to discover that the soil contained Greenlandic microorganisms protecting potato mushrooms fight farmers worldwide. It remains to try to duplicate these microorganisms.
They could “have a huge biotechnological potential if they could be synthesized (…) or if they could be used instead of pesticides,” the microbiologist Peter Stougaard, University of Copenhagen.