Courses / University of Washington

Exploration Seminar to Greenland / Denmark

This page provides a summary of the 2018 Exploration Seminar to Greenland and Denmark. Follow the posts written by the incredible group of 14 University of Washington undergraduate students that detail activity during the class:

15-20 August

21-26 August

27-31 August

1-4 September

5-9 September

This program has received generous support from the Scan|Design Foundation.
We are thrilled to have this partnership and offer this opportunity.

The course was led by Michelle Koutnik along with UW Earth and Space Sciences graduate student John Christian, and co-instructor Hans Christian Steen-Larsen from the University of Bergen, Norway.

Crossing North Podcast Episode #13

Student report on the Program on Climate Change blog

Itinerary included:

August 15: Met in Copenhagen, Denmark
August 17: Flew from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq and then to Ilulissat on Air Greenland
August 17 – 24: Explored around Ilulissat, lessons in ice and climate, Arctic history, and includes boat tours in icy fjord and to nearby glaciers, as well as hiking in this area that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
August 24: Took the Diskoline ferry from Ilulissat to Aasiaat
August 26: Took the Arctic Umiaq Line from Aasiaat to Nuuk
August 28 – 1 September: Stayed in the capital city Nuuk learning about government, history, and scientific research in Greenland
1-4 September: Flew from Nuuk to Kangerlussuaq on Air Greenland and spent the time hiking near Kangerlussuaq and onto the Greenland ice sheet margin
4 September: Flew from Kangerlussuaq to Copenhagen on Air Greenland
4-10 September: Spent this time in beautiful Copenhagen learning more about ice-core science, renewable energy, and Greeland-Denmark relations through active engagement at sites and with experts

The course focus was based on the physical science of ice and climate, but the destinations and experiences were rich in exposure and education in culture, history, and policy. The academic motivation was for students to understand how the Greenland Ice Sheet is changing due to climate change, how this affects people in Greenland and around the world, and how Denmark is leading scientific efforts to understand these changes and political efforts to mitigate these changes. Since no roads connect towns and cities in Greenland, we went by plane and ferry to locations that spanned smaller towns, stunning natural environments, and the country’s capitol city. We hiked on the Greenland ice sheet, toured the iceberg-choked fjords, and learned from Copenhagen how it is one of the world’s most desirable places to live and one of the most sustainable cities.


Special thanks to all of our guest lecturers and guides for locations that we visited in Greenland and in Denmark.

Please see the planning page for archived information about the course and about the course travel.

We are still sorting our photos and are in the process of posting highlights here – a few are posted to get started. Please contact me for high-resolution versions, and more to come soon.

Ilulissat ice fjord, Greenland. Photo: Alden Rose

Humpback whales near Ilulissat, Greenland. Photo: Alden Rose

Nuuk, Greenland. Photo: Ben Pratt

Ilulissat ice fjord, Greenland. Photo: Betz Mayer

Nuuk, Greenland. Photo: Betz Mayer

Humpback whale in Ilulissat ice fjord, Greenland. Photo: Emily Wilbur

Ilulissat, Greenland. Photo: Emily Wilbur

Near Eqi Glacier, Greenland. Photo: Emily Wilbur

Eqi Glacier, Greenland. Photo: Emily Wilbur

Ilulissat, Greenland. Photo: Emily Wilbur

On Arctic Umiaq Line coastal ferry, Greenland. Photo: Emily Wilbur

Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo: Emily Wilbur

Whole group in Greenland. Photo: Sarah Flint

Watching Ilulissat ice fjord, Greenland. Photo: Hans Christian Steen-Larsen

On Arctic Umiaq Line coastal ferry. Photo: Hans Christian Steen-Larsen

Group on the coastal ferry, Greenland. Photo: Hans Christian Steen-Larsen

Watching Eqi Glacier, Greenland. Photo: John Christian

On the Greenland Ice Sheet near Kangerlussuaq. Photo: John Christian

Moon rising over Ilulissat ice fjord. Photo: John Christian

Ilulissat ice fjord, Greenland. Photo: John Christian

National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen. Photo: John Christian

Ilulissat Art Museum. Photo: Karl Skeel

Copenhagen Climate March 2018. Photo: Karl Skeel

Humpback whales near Ilulissat, Greenland. Photo: Katie Hearther

Humpback whales near Ilulissat ice fjord. Photo: Katie Hearther