Baffin Island (previously Baffin Land) is Canada’s biggest and fifth-largest island in the world, located between Greenland and the Canadian mainland. It is the largest island in the Canadian province of Nunavut, covering 195,928 square miles (507,451 square kilometers). It has a population of 13,148 people and is located between 70° N and 75° W, according to the 2016 Canadian Census. Baffin Island is bordered on the north and east by the Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait, and on the south by Hudson Strait, which separates it from the Labrador-Ungava mainland. It’s a magnificent wild area, the Inuit’s beautiful homeland, and an accessible Arctic playground for the adventurous.
Baffin Island is a wonderfully lonely area with a striking landscape, with towering mountains contrasted with flat plains and beaches that begin with precipitous, freezing cliff cliffs. It is separated from Greenland by the Davis Strait and the Baffin Bay, from northern Québec by Hudson Strait, and from the Melville Peninsula by the Foxe Basin and the narrow Fury and Hecla Strait. It is located in Nunavut, in the Arctic Archipelago. The island’s vastness and befuddling coastline perplexed early explorers, concealing the island’s geography until recently.
The Inuktitut name for the island is Qikiqtaaluk, which means “very big island” (qikiqtaq “island” + -aluk “very big”). The administrative territory in which the island is located, as well as some smaller islands in the Baffin Bay and Foxe Bay, retain this name. The Arctic Cordillera stretches along the eastern coast, dominated by alpine mountains with steep peaks and ridges, with the occasional flat-topped mountain thrown in for good measure. This results in the formation of a shield, which then slopes westward to produce a sedimentary basin.
The island was initially found by Europeans in 1576, and in the 19th and 20th centuries, it was heavily employed in the whaling industry. To the east, the Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait are frequently open in the summer, but the western side is usually closed by ice all year. Baffin Island has been inhabited for about 3,000 years, beginning with the pre-Dorset, then the Dorset, and finally the Thule people, progenitors of the Inuit, who have resided on the island for the last thousand years. Penny and Barnes, the island’s two main ice caps, have gently rolling terrains.
The west of the island is usually closed all year, but the east is open to travelers during the summer months. Baffin Island is supposed to be Helluland, and the Tanfield Valley archaeological site was once a trading station. Harp seals, walrus, and beluga whales, as well as the magnificent narwhals with their long spiraling tusks, can be seen in the summer waters. The annual spring Toonik Tyme Festival may be the best party on Baffin Island in terms of festivals and festivities.
Baffin Island is a continuation of the Canadian Shield’s eastern edge, which rises to form a steep spine in the east before sloping away into plateaus and lowlands in the west. Norse explorers are thought to have visited the Arctic Island in the 11th century, and British explorer Martin (later Sir Martin) Frobisher was the first to see it. The Hudson Strait separates Baffin Island from mainland Quebec to the south. The Fury and Hecla Strait, which divides the island from the Melville Peninsula on the mainland, is located south of the island’s western end.
The largest ice caps on the island, the Penny and Barnes ice caps, feature a flat undulating surface with no interruptions in their coverage. The mountain range grows lower and thinner north of the Penny ice cap, vanishes into Pond Inlet, and reappears on Bylot Island. Bylot Island, located off the northeastern coast of Baffin Island, is almost totally covered in ice, pierced by mountain peaks and ridges. The Davis Strait and the Baffin Bay are to the east, with Greenland beyond. To the west and north, Baffin Island is separated from the rest of the Arctic Archipelago by the Foxe Basin, the Gulf of Boothia, and Lancaster Sound.
The spectacular Great Plain of the Koukdjuak stretches from south of the Hantzsch River to Foxe Peninsula, consisting of a coastal strip of flat, grassy marshes and a somewhat higher plain with a number of historic beaches. The Foxe Peninsula is rocky in the south and dips to the sea on the west shore over steep bluffs. Mount Odin is the tallest mountain, with an elevation of at least 2,143 meters (7,031 feet), however, some sources claim 2,147 meters (7,044 ft). Mount Asgard, at a height of 2,011 meters (6,598 ft), is another notable peak in Auyuittuq National Park.
Year-round, species such as Barren-ground Caribou, polar bear, Arctic fox, Arctic wolf, and lemming can be found. The ringed seals, which are the King of the Arctic’s favorite diet, reside offshore within roughly 8 kilometers of land all year. Baffin Island hosts a variety of migrating bird species during the summer, from water birds like the Canada geese, snow goose, and Brant goose, to shorebirds like pharalope and other waders like the Arctic tern, which migrates all the way from Antarctica every spring. There are numerous freshwater lakes on the island, including Nettilling (5,542 km2) and Amadjuak (3,115 km2).
Caribou and their habitat have been negatively impacted by land development and other causes, according to local communities on the island. Climate change, sickness, and economic activity, such as mineral exploitation, are all listed as potential dangers to the herd in the survey. Arctic hares can be found on the entire island of Baffin. Their fur is pure white in winter and molts to a scruffy dark grey in summer. Arctic foxes and Arctic wolves feed primarily on Arctic hares and lemmings. Climate change’s effects on the Arctic are becoming increasingly alarming. Various investigations, including a 2009 examination of silt in a lake on Baffin Island, have documented these effects. Scientists were able to assess changes in the ecosystem over a 200,000-year period by examining the sediment.
The lowlands of Precambrian gneiss rock can be found on Hall Peninsula and the promontory west of Frobisher Bay. Near the ocean, the terrain is harsh and rocky, with hills. The Grinnel glacier on Hall Peninsula calve icebergs into Frobisher Bay, and both peninsulas contain permanent ice. Baffin Island, like all of northeastern Canada, is subjected to a year-round northerly airflow, resulting in a very cold temperature. Snow, even heavy snow, can fall at any time of year, but the months of July and August are the least common. Average annual temperatures at Iqaluit are around −9.5 °C (14.9 °F), compared with around 5 °C (41 °F) in Reykjavík, which is at a similar latitude.
Natural mechanisms might explain environmental shifts up until the twentieth century. Beginning in the twentieth century, however, lake sediment revealed environmental changes that deviated from the natural course of the previous 200,000 years. These alterations were related to human-caused global warming, according to scientists. Foxe Peninsula juts out the southwestern corner of Baffin Island. The southern half is high, harsh, and rocky, whereas the northern half becomes gradually low, drift-covered, and peppered with rocky outcroppings. The Chidliak Kimberlite Province, which features diamond-bearing kimberlite pipes, is located on the Hall Peninsula of southern Baffin Island.