Satellite images of Greenland from China to Greenland


A delegation of four high-ranking Chinese officials and scientists from China's Ministry of Science and Technology, Beijing Normal University, and Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences visited Nuuk last week. They were here to hand over the results of a co-operation between Chinese and Greenland scientists regarding satellite images of Greenland. The mapping consists of 108 so-called LANDSAT-8 satellite images put together as a mosaic of the entire country. The images were taken during the months of July and August in 2014 and 2015 and have now been handed over to the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.

Producing satellite images of satisfactory quality is a demanding job. There are many factors, e.g. atmospheric conditions, which have to come together. A satellite orbits the Earth once every 16 days, and if the weather conditions are not exactly right on the day the satellite shoots past, then it takes another 16 days, before it passes again.

The satellite images were produced in collaboration with the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources and Oqaasileriffik. The latter has verified the place names.

”We are pleased to have the opportunity to hand over these maps to Greenland, where they belong. You might wonder, what interest China could have in such maps, but we do have a great deal of interest. We are extremely interested in following closely the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet in particular as it directly affects the sea level in China. China also experiences sea level rises. The eastern part of China has the lowest-lying points in the entire country and, in terms of infrastructure, the most developed areas. These areas will most certainly be affected. The globe is inevitably connected, and this is why China is interested in following the changes that are happening in the Arctic,” says Xiau Cheng, Vice-Chancellor of Centre for Polar and Marine Research at Beijing Normal University.

”The maps and the accompanying CDs will be useful as background material to the scientists of this institute, for instance in connection with land-based research in reindeer and vegetation,” says GIS Manager Karl Zinglersen from the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.

At the handover, Greenland and China’s potential common interests around other future projects were discussed. The Chinese delegation expressed great interest in a potential joint work on oceanography and the spreading of sea ice. Also cultivation of vegetable in the Arctic was discussed: One of the delegation members, Scientist Qiang Zhou from Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences, specializes in developing greenhouses for growing vegetables in cold and dark areas. He has successfully completed cultivation projects at the South Pole – and perhaps this technology could be used in Greenland. 

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From left to right: Professor Qiang Zhou, Director/Associate Professor Shengbiao Huang, Karl Brix Zinglersen (Greenland Institute of Natural Resources), Director General Chuanhong Chen, Dean Xiao Cheng, Yu Jia (Greenland Institute of Natural Resources)

Dean Xiao Cheng from Beijing Normal University hands over the GIS maps to GIS manager Karl Zinglersen from the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources