Greenland's Weather and Climate

Aurora BorealisAs for most things in Greenland, the climate is influenced by the ever-present ice. The ice is partly responsible for the formation of large high pressure systems that dominate the area during the Spring and Summer, making these the best times to visit and enjoy the typically calm and settled weather.  East Greenland has on average 300 days a year of sunshine.


It’s not as cold as you may expect. A sunny Spring day can see temperatures climb above freezing in some areas, but the fjordsremain frozen and deep snow extends down to the coastline - watch out for seals basking in the sun or a glimpse of a whale’s exhalation fountaining through a break in the sea ice. During a clear calm night, temperatures fall much lower, but this is a very dry cold and is usually comfortable - it shouldn’t interfere with your nighttime shows of the Northern Lights! This time of year is ideal for trips on the dog sleds, and exploration by snowshoe and ski.

A summer trip makes the most of surprisingly warm daytime temperatures and long sunny days - perfect for trekking up remote valleys and fjords, taking in the colourful flora that abounds at this time of year and stopping to snack on bilberries or maybe fish a trout out of a crystal clear stream. By June, most of the sea ice has broken and the snow has retreated to the summits leaving the fjords clear for memorable boat trips with the Inuit hunters. The short summer nights are still chilly and temperatures drop rapidly as the sun lingers on the horizon before finally sinking in a blazing sunset. Such conditions usually continue though to the end of August.

By September, Autumn rapidly begins to take a hold. Temperatures drop, sheltered fjords begin to freeze over, the winds begin to strengthen and the snow reaches closer to the coast after each snowfall. The Inuit begin to prepare for Winter and the long dark nights ahead.

Winter in Greenland is a magical time.  In the south daylight hours are limited and the sun rises above the horizon for just a few hours each day, casting beautiful shadows and colours across the snowy land.  Further north above the Arctic Circle, darkness prevails and the sun remains hidden.  This reveals a dazzling display of starlight and Aurora.  Temperatures are very low and sea ice forms extensively - this is the time when the hunters can begin travelling great distances with their dogs.  This is the best time to visit to see the Northern Lights.

Whilst strong winds, heavy snowfall and storms are uncommon during the Spring and Summer, these conditions can still occur and our itineraries are designed to cope with such situations. Of particular note in East Greenland is the infamous but thankfully rare and short-lived ‘Piteraq’, a fierce katabatic wind that thunders down from the icecap. In Ammassalik, the highest Piteraq gusts were recorded in 1972 and measured 72 m/s.

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