Axel Heiberg Island


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Axel Heiberg Island is a medium-sized island in the Far North, just west of Ellesmere Island. Its coastline is indented with fifteen fiords and five bays. The island's interior has rugged topography, with two ice-capped mountains dominating the landscape. One of these is central, while the other is in the south. Small glaciers extend from the margins of both ice caps. Most of the glaciers from the southern ice cap make their way to Glacier Fiord, where they fracture and form icebergs that are drawn out to sea. Many rivers carry runoff from the ice caps to the surrounding fiords and bays.

The northern half of the island changes from lowlands in the south to cone-shaped hills that jut out of the ground in the north. The northern coast ends in cliffs – named "Svartevaeg" or Black Wall – which drop sharply up to 650 m to the sea. The eastern edge of the island slopes gradually down to sea level, although there are some hills in the southeast. Shei Peninsula extends from the northeastern corner of the main body of the island into Nansen Sound.

Axel Heiberg Island was first discovered and explored in 1900 by Otto Sverdrup and I. Foshiem. Their explorations took place during Easter, a fact marked by the naming of Good Friday Bay and its accompanying cape, Cape Maundy Thursday, in the southwest. Although there are signs of past Inuit occupancy, no settlements currently exist on Axel Heiberg Island.