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Greenland's residents grapple with global warming

​Global warming is reshaping Greenland

​Global warming is reshaping Greenland

Nestled between icy peaks and lapped in frozen ocean waters, the tiny town of Tasiilaq in southeastern Greenland is home to some 2,000 people.

In pic: Seal hunter Henrik Josvasson jumps back onto his boat after searching for puffin eggs near the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland.

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Reuters
​Snow covered mountains rise

​Snow covered mountains rise

Colorful wooden houses dot the sub-Arctic landscape battered by one of the harshest climates on the planet.

But global warming is reshaping the world's largest island, causing the ice sheet to melt at a faster rate than previously thought.

In pic: Snow covered mountains rise above the harbour and town of Tasiilaq, Greenland.

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​Big problem

​Big problem

As scientists study the threats posed by a warming climate, some of the immediate effects of climate change have been a double-edged sword for some in and around Tasiilaq.

Julius Nielsen, 40, who lives about 45 km (28 miles) from Tasiilaq, has been hunting and fishing in the area most of his life.

"There's no snow, it's too hot and the water is not freezing," said Nielsen. A thin, frail ice sheet - or lack of ice - pose a big problem for locals like Nielsen who are not able to go hunting with their sled dogs, or have to take alternate routes.

In pic: The setting sun illuminates the face of seal hunter Henrik Josvasson near the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland.

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​Rising sea level

​Rising sea level

Continued global warming will accelerate thawing of the ice sheet and contribute to rising sea levels worldwide, scientists have found.

In pic: An abandoned house stands on the shore of a fjord near Tasiilaq, Greenland.

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​Thinning ice

​Thinning ice

A United Nations report released in October urged nations to limit the increase in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels in order to minimize global sea level rise, reduce flooding and the overall impact of climate change on the world's ecosystems. This would require global net carbon dioxide emissions to fall by about 45 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels.

Nielsen said that, over the last 10 years, it has become increasingly hard to reach usual hunting grounds with sled dogs due to unpredictable weather, thinning ice or no ice at all.

"Every year we see the glaciers, the landscape, the ice sheet melting and melting," he said. "What we know from our ancestors is almost gone and we cannot take it back. We have to find new tools."

In pic: An iceberg floats in a fjord near the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland.

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​Boon for local fishing

​Boon for local fishing

Ice retreating earlier in the year is freeing access to areas that were previously locked away for longer, and it has allowed Moeller to kick off boat tours for tourists much earlier in the summer season.

In addition, fish such as mackerel, usually not found in the icy seawater of Greenland, are now abundant - a boon for the local fishing industry, Moeller and Nielsen said.

In pic: Seal hunter Henrik Josvasson pulls a common loon into his boat while seal hunting near the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland.

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​Tourism business

​Tourism business

Moeller also cited another temporary advantage climate change has brought to his tourism business: People want to see the ice cap before it is too late.

"Go and see the glaciers before they disappear. That's the thing you hear again and again," Moeller said.

In pic: A woman and child hold hands as they walk on the street in the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland.

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