Last month, scientists set foot on a tiny island off the coast of Greenland, which they say is the northernmost landfall in the world, and was discovered by shearing pack ice.
The discovery comes as a battle is brewing between the Arctic nations - the United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway - for control of the North Pole, about 700 km (435 mi) north, and over the surrounding seabed, fishing rights. fishing and shipping routes opened as a result of melting ice due to climate change.
"It was not our intention to open a new island," Morten Rush, a polar explorer and head of the Arctic Station research center in Greenland, told Reuters. "We just went there to collect samples."
At first, scientists thought they had arrived on the island of Udaak, discovered by a Danish research group in 1978. Only later, after checking the exact location, they realized that they had visited another island located 780 meters to the northwest.
“Everyone was happy that we found what we thought was Udaak Island,” says Swiss entrepreneur Christian Leister, founder of the Leicester Foundation, which financed the expedition.
"This is a bit like explorers of the past who thought they landed in a certain place, but in fact found a completely different place."
The small island, about 30 meters across and about three meters high, is made up of sea silt and moraine - soil and rock left behind by moving glaciers. The team said it recommends calling it "Qeqertaq Avannarleq", which is Greenlandic for "northernmost island."
In recent decades, several American expeditions have searched the area for the northernmost island in the world. In 2007, Arctic veteran Dennis Schmitt discovered a similar island nearby.
Despite the fact that it appeared as a result of the displacement of pack ice, scientists said that the island's appearance is not a direct consequence of global warming., which leads to a reduction in the Greenland ice cover.
Rene Forsberg, professor and head of geodynamics at the Danish National Space Institute, said there is some thick polar sea ice in the area north of Greenland, although he added that it is now 3 meters thick in summer, while the first visit as part of the expedition that discovered the island of Udaak in 1978, it was 4 meters.
Any hope of expanding territorial claims in the Arctic hinges on whether it is actually an island or a sandbank that could disappear again. The island must remain above sea level during high tide.
"It meets the criteria for an island," Forsberg said. "It is currently the northernmost land in the world."
But Forsberg, an adviser to the Danish government, said it was unlikely to change Denmark's territorial claims north of Greenland.
“These little islands come and go,” he said.