The Arctic is rapidly changing, affected much more than the rest of the planet. It’s warming up at twice the speed as the rest of the planet, with the seasonal sea-ice suffering from long-term decline, and the ice sheet that Greenland sits on top of is losing 280 billion tons annually.
The challenge of any Cartography illustrator making a map of the region is the fact that they have to accept that what they’re making will need to be updated in the relatively near future.
Laura Gerrish, a British Antarctic Survey (BAS) geographical information systems, Cartography illustrator, and mapping specialist, is aware of this fact, as her field, polar science and polar cartography are all about keeping track of change.
Laura recently just made a printed sheet map, scaled 1:4,000,000, of Greenland, with intricate detail of the region, showing the fjords and inlets, highlighted with their Greenlandic names. She explains that the map is a little strange due to the fact that the area hasn’t really been shown on one sheet like this; there are good maps, of Europe, of Iceland, of Svalbard, but none that places them into a single sheet that shows their relation to each other.
Laura notes that the map is primarily aimed at scientists, due to the BAS’s nature as a scientific organization, but she hopes that tourists on ships and visitors to the region, alongside schools or people interested in the Arctic region, will find the map useful.
The full map, given the title ‘Greenland and the European Arctic‘, took nearly two years to create, using more than a dozen data-sets, verified using the latest satellite imagery, in order to ensure that the shape of the region, as well as its physical features, were as accurately depicted as possible.
This includes keeping track of how glaciers behave, mapping their slowdown, and their lengthening, with the map noting that 47 regularly surveyed glaciers effectively stood still in 2018.
NERC Arctic Office Head Henry Burgess explains why the BAS is doing making maps of the northern polar regions, saying that the BAS is the logistics provider for the polar regions, providing ships, planes, and expertise needed to map the polar regions.
The Greenland and the European Arctic map is available for sale as either a folded map or a flat wall map at several outlets in the UK, particularly in London.