Scientists Stumble Upon World's Northernmost Island

They thought they were on Oodaaq Island, discovered they were further north
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2021 3:35 AM CDT
World's Northernmost Island Discovered
In this photo provided by Morten Rasch on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, a view of the newly discovered island, off the coast of Greenland.   (Morten Rasch via AP)

(Newser) – Scientists who thought they were on Oodaaq Island, an Arctic island off the coast of Greenland, checked their position and found they were actually 2,625 feet further north. That means they likely discovered the planet's northernmost island, the point of land closest to the North Pole, the BBC reports. The researchers had flown to the tiny island, which is almost 100 feet by almost 200 feet, to collect samples last month, the AP reports. Oodaaq Island, discovered in 1978, was previously believed to be the northernmost.

The team was looking "for new species being adapted to a life in this very extreme environment," and took a helicopter but couldn't find Oodaaq Island (maps of the area aren't very accurate, the lead researcher says). So they continued flying around looking for it, and "after a few very exciting minutes, we landed on a strange unvegetated bunch of mud, moraine deposits, and gravel surrounded by sea ice on all sides," the lead researcher says.

They ultimately realized, "We by accident actually discovered the world's most northerly island." They hope it will be named Qeqertaq Avannarleq, or "the northernmost island" in Greenlandic. But, the lead researcher notes, it might not last long. "No one knows how long it will remain. In principle, it could disappear as soon as a powerful new storm hits." (Read more Greenland stories.)

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