Greenland Weather and Climate – Ultimate Guide
What is the weather like in Greenland?
Greenlands weather and climate, including temperatures, can differ hugely across the country due to the sheer volume of the country, an area of 2.1 million km2 (that’s around 9 times the size of the UK) and it’s not unusual for the weather to change quickly from one valley to the next!
Greenland experiences distinct seasons that are strictly governed by the sun and the moon, showcasing the extraordinarily dramatic contrast between endless summer nights and enteral dark days in winter months. Whilst spring and autumn transcend rather quickly, all four seasons offer their own captivating traits.
November to April sees temperatures plummet well below zero, making the summer the best time to visit Greenland.
For more details to help you decide when you should go on an expedition cruise, learn about our voyages here.
Does Greenland have seasons?
Greenland has four very distinct seasons that all offer unique attributions to your visit, yet spring and autumn are fleeting but shouldn’t be scratched from your list!
As the daylight and temperature rise, the snow melts and the days get longer during this transitional month.
Summer offers the most opportunities to explore as the sea ice retreats and wildlife emerges on the flora tundra.
A fleeting season! The warm-coloured landscapes slowly return to white as the temperatures cool and winter creeps in.
Freezing temperatures cause snow and ice to blanket Greenland and the skies open up the northern light spectacle.
How is Climate Change affecting Greenland?
The Arctic is suffering from climate change and the effects are significantly increased here, more than anywhere else in the world. Greenland’s weather has seen an increase in irregularities making predicting an accurate forecast difficult but even more worryingly, extreme weather is becoming more frequent.
Of course, the wildlife is hugely affected too. The main predator, the polar bear at the forefront of this disaster. As the summer months get longer and the pack ice retreats, the polar bears struggle to maintain a sustainable diet as their platform for hunting is drastically reduced.
Recent research suggests a new subpopulation may be forming in the South however, strong evidence for this is not yet confirmed.
Whilst Greenland remains one of the most remote locations on our planet and many people remain disconnected from such an environment, the warming here will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the entire global population.
Climate Change Impact on Indigenous Communities
The indigenous communities of Greenland are directly affected by the effects of climate change, more directly than many parts of Europe and the rest of the world. Their existence coincides with the natural environment – it’s a part of their culture and identity.
Today, they rely heavily on traditional hunting methods including fishing, hunting and foraging but they face new challenges as the landscape alters.
Greenlands weather changes, are both subtle and abrupt but are disrupting the everyday life of hundreds of years of knowledge and connection to the land for the communities here.
Is it always cold in Greenland?
Greenland is located in the North Atlantic Ocean and is the largest island in the world. The ice sheet covers an astonishing 80% of Greenland and stretches over 1,500 miles (2,400km) and two-thirds of Greenland sits in the Arctic Circle, but it’s warmer than you think.
Greenlands weather and temperature is influenced by the warm Gulf Stream that feeds into the west coast from the Atlantic Ocean.
July is the warmest month of the year and temperatures average around 6.9°C, and in 2021 a record temperature of 23.6°C was reported.
However, the winter is still bitterly cold, averaging -12 °C from January to March and records hold figures as low as -50°C.
Is Greenland humid?
Though temperatures generally remain below 0°C, even in the depth of winter it can be bearable due to the very dry climate ranging from 59% humidity in December, to 74% in August.
Rain and Wind
It rarely rains in Greenland, in fact in the northeast it receives such little rainfall it’s known as the Arctic Desert. (Surprisingly, the Sahara Desert receives more rainfall!)
In general, the south is wetter than the north but even the south receives as little rain as 900mm per year.
Greenland is not known to be a windy destination, however strong winds called the ‘föehn winds’ can reach speeds over 80mph!
Föehn winds are a type of warm, dry descending air that occurs in mountain ranges and the winter and autumn seasons are often victim to a variant of föehn winds called, piteraq. This rather accurately translates to, “That which attacks you.”
Summer in Greenland
June to September
The warming midnight sun reveals the earth as the coastal snow melts away and plants begin to grow and thrive. Animals such as the musk ox, arctic hare and reindeer can often be spotted grazing on the fresh vegetation.
The rising temperature also allows for further exploration of the fjords along the coast of Greenland. Until this point, many areas are entirely cut off due to the ice.
Summer is the perfect time to embark on our 12 guest Expedition Micro Cruises
What is the temperature in Greenland during the summer months?
In the height of summer in the southernmost parts of Greenland and the innermost fjords temperatures can surprisingly reach 20° C, but the average is around 5°- 10 C.
Winter in Greenland
Grab your hats, gloves and layer up for whether you’re in the north or south of Greenland temperatures typically range from -9° C and lower.
The days become much shorter and complete darkness occurs in the depths of winter, but this provides the best conditions (which you will be thankful for) to witness the breathtaking Northern lights. The scenic snow-capped mountains and colossal icebergs make this one of the picturesque spots to enjoy the natural phenomenon.
What is the temperature in Greenland during the winter months?
In the winter Greenland is undoubtedly cold. Temperatures average -18° C and can often far exceed this. Even with the low humidity, -18° C still feels very cold!
Transition Seasons in Greenland
Don’t dismiss visiting Greenland in spring and summer! Though these seasons are fleeting, they can offer some of the most unique conditions and often produce the most urethral light for budding photographers.
Autumn in Greenland
As temperatures begin to drop and the evenings get longer, Greenland too flaunts the landscape with warm orange and yellow hues. There’s also still a great chance to spot the Northern Lights!
If wildlife is an interest to you, this is an ideal time to witness whales including, the blue, bowhead, fin, humpback, minke, pilot and sperm whales- not forgetting the belugas and narwhals.
Spring in Greenland
The short transition between winter and summer unfolds right before your eyes. Each day brings a new view and within the space of a week, the landscape can change entirely.
As winter loses the battle with the soon ever prevalent sun, marvel at the melting ice creations from fairytale waterfalls to shimmering melting icicles off the hanging rooftops.
As the days grow longer, it’s a great time to take advantage of the spectacular sunrises and sunsets, before they soon disappear in the summer months.