In Greenland, an Urban Heat Island Is Growing Fast

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By Sarah Goodyear

For all our new familiarity with the idea of Greenland as a global climatological force, we don’t often think about it as a place where people live. With only 56,000 souls living on 836,000 square miles, it is the least densely populated country in the world. Most residents are concentrated in a few cities and towns on the island’s western edge. Some 16,000 live in the capital city of Nuuk.

And Nuuk, like cities around the world, is an urban heat island, according to research conducted by Tony Reames, a doctoral student at the University of Kansas School of Public Affairs and Administration and a National Science Foundation Fellow in the Climate Change, Humans and Nature in the Global Environmental IGERT.

Reames, whose studies have focused on environmental justice in urban America, began his research as a class project, not sure what he would find. But the almost laboratory-like conditions of Greenland, he discovered, were a perfect place to measure the effect of human urban development on temperature, especially in the dark winter months…

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