It's a curious thing, that Iceland's so green, and Greenland's so, well, icy...I suspect that climate change aside, these two lands have alternated back and forth prior to anyone naming them...
According to http://nat.is/greenlandeng/greenland_history.htm
The first Inuit settleres reached Greenland around 2000BC. Eric the Red and a norse colony settled in Greenland in 946 AD. Accounts describing the landscape at the time are few on the internet, but the norse settlers were farming and grazing cattle in southernmost Greenland. Some accounts suggest that the exploration farther westward that resulted in finding continental North America were made because of the lack of timber on Greenland. I don't really know if there were high latitude forest trees present, such as the aspens in Iceland, at the time of Norse settlement. If present they may have been cut down by these early settlers for fuela and materials or they may not have been present. More research is needed to tell for sure.
It is likely that the climate of Greenland is much colder than Iceland because Greenland is an much larger land mass in more of a continental setting with a an arctic cold high pressure system sitting over the top of the island much of thenyear, while the climate of Iceland is more mitigated by the surrounding north Atlantic ocean waters. But even within these constraints there has been climatic variation there.
http://www.mnh.si.edu/vikings/voyage/su ... nment.html
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 142112.htm
Studies of environmental conditions, climate, and their interactions have produced important new information relevant to Norse extinction in Greenland. Most revealing is the detailed evidence of climatic changes that occurred in the northwestern Atlantic beginning in the early 1300s...These indicators clearly suggest that the climate was cooling in the 14th century, and that the Greenlandic environment had been depleted of its "natural capital"--its previously untapped grasslands and animal resources-over 500 years of farming practices in this delicate arctic climate.
Greenland Ice Core Analysis Shows Drastic Climate Change Near End Of Last Ice Age
ScienceDaily (June 19, 2008) — Information gleaned from a Greenland ice core by an international science team shows that two huge Northern Hemisphere temperature spikes prior to the close of the last ice age some 11,500 years ago were tied to fundamental shifts in atmospheric circulation.
As a side note of interest:
Greenland holds enough ice to raise global sea level 23 feet – or to fill the Lower 48 states 2,940 feet high, like a bathtub.
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