Arctic Cordillera


Location of the Arctic Cordillera

Mountains in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island

The Arctic Cordillera (English Arctic Cordillera ) is a highly structured Mountains along the northeast coast of North America and also the northernmost mountains in the world. It is approximately 1,000 km long and extends into Canada from Ellesmere Island on the Baffin Island to the northern tip of Labrador Peninsula. The Arctic Cordillera covers a large part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, many of the mountains are covered in snow and protrude from ice fields or ice caps. In the east, the Arctic Cordillera is limited by the Baffin Bay, Davis Strait and the Labrador Sea, to the north by the Arctic Ocean.

The mountain is located predominantly in the territory of Nunavut, a small part in the south east in the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec. It is divided into several smaller mountain ranges, with mountains reaching heights of over 2000 m. Highest mountain is 2616 m high Barbeau Peak on Ellesmere Island, which is the highest peak in eastern North America in the British Empire Range at the same time. Sometimes the term is used for the Rockies Arctic Arctic Cordillera, this is due to the similarity to known Rockies (part of the Cordillera ) in western Canada. The Arctic Cordillera is also one of the 15 ecoregions of Canada.


The largest part of the Arctic Cordillera is located on Ellesmere Island, Baffin Island, Bylot of the Island, Devon Island and Bathurst Island, a small part on the northern tip of Labrador Peninsula.


More than a fifth of Ellesmere Island, the Quttinirpaaq National Park, is under protection. The national park includes seven fjords and a variety of glaciers. There are also Lake Hazen, the world's largest lake is located north of the Arctic Circle. Barbeau Peak, the highest mountain in Nunavut ( 2616 m ) is located on Ellesmere Island in the British Empire Range. The Challenger Mountains, the northernmost mountain range in the world, located in the northwestern region of the island. The northern tip of the island is called Grantland.

The Sirmilik National Park in the north of Baffin Island is known for its large populations of thick-billed murres, kittiwakes and snow geese. Geographically Sirmilik National Park is divided into three parts in the Bylot Island, the north east of the Borden Peninsula and south of Pond Inlet lying area between Oliver Sound and Paquet Bay.

The Auyuittuq National Park is located on the Cumberland Peninsula in the southeast part of Baffin Island. In Inuktitut, the Inuit language, means Auyuittuq " the land that never melts ". Auyuittuq was created in 1976 as a nature reserve in 2000 and was awarded the status of a national park. Famous mountains include Mount Asgard and Mount Thor with the highest vertical cliff in the world.

The Torngat Mountains National Park on the Labrador Peninsula encompasses a vast part of the Torngatberge at the southern end of the Arctic Cordillera. It was created in 2005 and is the first national park in the province part of Labrador.

Highest mountains

Mountain ranges

Several sub-chains of the Arctic Cordillera have official names. They are:

  • Adam Range on the Île Vanier
  • Baffin Mountains to the east of Baffin Island
  • Blackwelder Mountains to the east of Ellesmere Island
  • Blue Mountains in eastern Ellesmere Island
  • Boulder Hills in the north of Ellesmere Island
  • British Empire Range in the north of Ellesmere Island
  • Bruce Mountains Along the east Baffin Island
  • Byam Martin Mountains on Bylot Island
  • Challenger Mountains in the northeast of Ellesmere Island
  • Conger Range in southern Quttinirpaaq National Park on Ellesmere Island
  • Cunningham Mountains in the south of Devon Island
  • Douro Range in the north west of Devon Island
  • Everett Mountains west of Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island
  • Garfield Range in the north of Ellesmere Island
  • Geodetic Hills in the center of Axel Heiberg Island
  • Grinnell Range in the north west of Devon Island
  • Grogan Morgan Range in the north of Bathurst Island
  • Haddington Range in northwestern Iceland Devon
  • Hartz Mountains in the north of Baffin Island
  • Inglefield Mountains in southeastern Ellesmere Island
  • Innuitian Mountains on Ellesmere Island, Axel Heiberg Island, Bathurst Island, Île Vanier and in the north east of Devon Island
  • Jeffries Range in the north of Bathurst Island
  • Joy Range in south-eastern Axel Heiberg Island
  • Krag Mountains in the north of Baffin Island
  • Warrior Mountains in the south of Ellesmere Island
  • Osborn Range in the north of Ellesmere Island
  • Precipitous Mountains in the north of Baffin Island
  • Prince of Wales Mountains in the center of Ellesmere Island
  • Princess Margaret Range in the center of Axel Heiberg Island
  • Sawtooth Range between the Posheim Peninsula and Wolf Valley on Ellesmere Island
  • Selamiut Range on the northern tip of Labrador
  • Scoresby Hills in the east of the Bathurst Island
  • Stokes Range in the north of Bathurst Island
  • Swiss Range in the center of Axel Heiberg Island
  • Thorndike Peaks in the south of Ellesmere Island
  • Torngat Mountains on the northern tip of Labrador
  • Treuter Mountains in the north of Devon Island
  • United States Range in the north of Ellesmere Island
  • Victoria and Albert Mountains to the east of Ellesmere Island
  • White Triplets Peaks in the center of Axel Heiberg Island


The northern part of the Arctic Cordillera was unfolded, when the North American Plate moved in the middle of the Mesozoic to the north during the " inuitischen orogeny " ( Inuitian orogeny ). It consists of igneous and metamorphic rocks, for the most part, however, of sedimentary rocks. The mountains on Axel Heiberg Island consist mostly of long ridges of folded Paleozoic and Mesozoic Strata medium, with minor igneous intrusions.

The Arctic Cordillera is younger than the Appalachians, so that the erosion of the mountains has much less deformed into rounded hills. The mountains are bare, because trees can neither survive the extremely cold winter climate to grow during the summer. Vast areas are permanently covered by ice and snow. The Arctic Cordillera resembles the Appalachians in composition and has similar minerals. The mineral resources have been poorly understood because the exploitation is too expensive because of the remoteness of the region and further south there are cheaper alternatives.

The mountains in the southeastern part of Ellesmere Island consist mainly of gneiss, with smaller insets of volcanic rocks. They are considered in the highest degree eroded, with deep vertical grooves and narrow ridges.

The Arctic Cordillera forms the eastern edge of the Canadian Shield, which covers most of Canada. Präkambrisches rock is the main component of the basement.

Flora and Fauna

The vegetation is very sparse in the harsh climatic conditions, can occur because of frost throughout the year and the ground is rare. Three-quarters of the area are pure rock, even lichens are scarce and trees are found only on specially protected sites. In the region -growing plants are mostly small species that grow in the form of thick insulating mats to protect themselves from the cold, or covered with thick hair, serve the insulation and protection from winds. Among the plant species growing here include black spruce, arctic willow, cotton grass, sour grass plants, mosses, wood rush, rushes, Saxifragaceae, Diapensia, Arctic poppy, mountain avens, Alpensäuerling, campion, bilberry and heather plants.

The conditions are too hostile to life than that here could reptiles and amphibians survive even insects are scarce. Musk ox and caribou are the only large herbivores, polar bear and arctic wolf are the only large carnivores. Smaller herbivores include the Arctic hare and lemming collar, the smaller predators include Arctic fox and ermine. In the sea living mammals include narwhal, beluga, walrus, bearded seal and ringed seal.

To the people living in the Arctic Cordillera birds include ptarmigan, gyrfalcon, snowy owl, thick-billed murre, kittiwake, ruddy turnstone, red knot, black guillemot, Ringed Plover, Northern Fulmar, Red-throated Diver, snow goose and eider.

Climate and population

The climate of the Arctic Cordillera is one of the most inhospitable across Canada. In winter, the temperature falls to -35 ° C. Found on Axel Heiberg Island, about 40 million years old tree stumps indicate that the northern part of the Cordillera once warmer and wetter than it is today.

Only about 1,500 people live in the region, mainly in the settlements Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq on Baffin Island. The vast majority are Inuit who have their livelihood in hunting, fishing and trapping.