Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Oxford Place Of The Year: Warming Island


I’ve been blogging about the Place of the Week for nearly two years now, choosing a new location every seven days that I knew little about but had caught my attention or that appeared in the news. In the last year global warming has become much more than another subject debated within academia; in fact its found its way into our language, popular culture, and even our shopping habits. As I thought about this while I tried to pick my first Place of the Year, I kept coming back to the very visible ways the Earth’s landscape has been altered by the phenomena. The media has shown us some rather extreme scenarios–remember those images of Florida’s newer, smaller shape following a rise in sea levels?–but in fact, it is already possible to map the new geographies of a warmer planet.

A few weeks ago I wrote about Warming Island, a landmass formerly thought to be part of a peninsula that receding ice revealed was not connected to Greenland. I decided to make this the Place of the Year to further emphasize the magnitude of climate change. It is quite likely that we’ll continue to see different maps in the near future and that this won’t be the last time a new island appears in the Arctic. I’m sure that we’ll hear more about the Northwest Passage, and the impact of global warming on the populations of people, plants, and animals living in higher latitudes. We may be able to change our own activities to slow the pace of change, but in the meantime, cartographers will be busy in their continuing pursuit to accurately render the surface of the Earth.


Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.

Recent Comments

  1. Pamela Benjamin

    An island caused by global warming? That is outrageous.

  2. Carlos

    That’s incredible.

  3. Dick Talbert

    Booo! Place of the year should be America! USA rulez! U-S-A! U-S-A!

  4. Sammy

    Listening to your piece on NPR about this island got me wondering, what gives you the right to officially name this island “Warming Island” instead of using the Inuit name for it? Hard to pronounce or not, they named it first.

  5. Ben

    Hi Sammy,

    Thanks for posting. Oxford didn’t coin the name Warming Island, it was actually first used by Dennis Schmitt, the man who made the discovery. Uunartoq Qeqertoq is Inuit for “The Warming Island” so it’s just a translation.

  6. Bill Marston

    Hmmm… I am surprised at the anger which is apparent in some of these comments.

    Wondering how the world is going to improve its behaviors (e.g. mutual respect, compassion, forgiveness, cooperation, et al) when the internet gives all of us the ability to release to millions a knee-jerk reaction. I am not longing for the past when social propriety constrained our use of invective or other confronting language.

    I hope we all look to the language of respect to make our point and to challenge those we do not agree with while allowing the medium of society to allow for true communication. Perhaps I’ll say “Let’s use the language of listening.”

    Thanks for listening! Merci d’écouter moi ! Danke für das Hören auf mich! ¡Gracias por escuchar mí!

    (sorry – those are the only languages I could translate via babelfish)

  7. Get Ready… : OUPblog

    […] willing to guess what Ben will pick?  In the meantime be sure to check out last year’s Place of the Year. Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the […]

  8. […] to Geography Awareness week, the perfect time to announce another Place of the Year. In all honesty, I struggled with my decision this time, and sought the advice of several mapmakers […]

  9. […] Warming Island was a new addition to the Atlas and conveyed how climate change is altering the very map of Earth. Kosovo’s declaration of independence not only caused  lines on the map to be redrawn, but highlighted the struggle of many separatists groups around the world. In 2009 and 2010, we looked to the year ahead — as opposed to the year past — with the choices of South Africa and Yemen. Finally, last year was an easy choice as South Sudan joined us as a new country. […]

  10. […] or minute. But in 2007, a rude awakening occurred when the global warming revealed the truth behind Greenland’s Warming Island. Also known by the less-easily pronounced Uunartoq Qeqertaq, geographers and scientists formerly […]

  11. […] together of a few  of our past winners, Places of the Year have been as geographically varied as Warming Island and Mars, so feel free to be as imaginative as you’d like with your nominations. We will post the […]

Comments are closed.