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Peary Land, The Land of Extremities

The northern tip of Greenland, despite being situated a little over 700 km from the north pole, is entirely ice free and has been for the last 8,000 years since the glaciers retreated. It is the most northerly ice-free region in the world. The climate is high arctic with a relatively warm summer of less than two months and long winters. Precipitation levels are so low that this region has been dubbed a ‘polar desert’.

This region, a peninsula, is called Peary Land—named in honor of Robert Peary, who first explored it during his expedition of 1891 to 1892.

peary-land

Peary Land contains the most northerly ice-free region of the world.

Peary Land contains many interesting geographic, scientific and cultural landmarks. It’s home to the northernmost point of Greenland's mainland, Cape Morris Jesup, which Robert Peary reached in 1900. At that time it was believed to be the northernmost point of land in the entire world. It was only in 1969, that another island, Kaffeklubben, was found lying slightly to the north thus claiming the record as the most northerly point on land.

It’s incredible that even on this remote rocky island with freezing temperature two tiny flowering plants seek out a meager existence. Saxifraga oppositifolia (purple saxifrage) and Papaver radicatum are the two northernmost flowers in the world. Purple saxifrage also hold the title for being the highest elevation plant as well. It was discovered in the Swiss alps at an elevation of 14,780 feet.

purple-saxifrage

Purple saxifrage. Photo credit: euphro/Flickr

Historically, Peary Land was one of the northernmost human settlement in the world. Archeological expeditions conducted in the 1950s discovered traces of several permanent settlement in the area belonging to pre-Inuit tribes, the oldest of which was dated to 2400 BC.

During one of these expeditions, a research station named Brønlundhus was built on the western shore of Jørgen Brønlund Fjord in southern Peary Land. Built in 1947–48 by the Danish Peary Land Expeditions, Brønlundhus was the northernmost research station in the world until the establishment of Alert in Canada in 1950. Brønlundhus is no longer operational, but it still holds a rich collection of artefacts from past polar explorations. It has been proposed that Brønlundhus be turned into a museum, which would make it the northernmost museum in the world.

brønlundhus

Brønlundhus in 1966. Photo credit: Mapio.net

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