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Climate Change in the Arctic & around the globe

Arctic Summer

The plane from Akureyri to Constable Point was a Dash, a bit bigger than the Twin Otter that was to bring us on to Zackenberg, there were about 14 people on it. In addition to the eight of us going on to Zackenberg, there were two parties of geologists. The American beside me described himself as a “mountain-builder”, then went on to explain he was studying the composition and age of mountains. He drew my attention to an interesting theory his colleague is working on, that the increase in speed at which some glaciers are moving is responsible for the “ice quakes” we’ve been hearing about recently. Will have to follow that one up later.

The other lads from Cambridge, UK, were going to be helicopter-dropped somewhere in the middle of nowhere to set up camp for three weeks looking at sediment – research they sell to the oil industry. Again, we come to the Arctic warming up and the international interest in getting at possibly hidden natural resources.

The weather was cloudy when we left, but cleared by the time we got near Constable Point, so we got some reasonable views. But the best was yet to come. We shifted to the Twin Otter – two logisticians, those are the people who do all the technical running of the station, a new cook to join the existing one, the two Finnish insect specialists I met last night, an ornithologist, and an expert on lemmings, and me of course. The weekly charter to Zackenberg also brings the food supplies in, so the long-term residents look forward to fresh supplies.

The plane flies low, and our flight path went along the eastern coastline. Some perfect Arctic summer weather with sunshine and blue skies gave us beautiful views of sea ice, solid in places, at various stages of breaking up elsewhere, spreading in patterns with blue ocean in between and little ice-bergs, dazzling white above and greenish-turquoise on the edges just under water. The mountains on land are at different stages of emerging from their winter white. There\’s a mixture of rugged browns, sometimes an initial tinge of green, and glacier white. I have beautiful photos, I promise, but we have to be sparing with them until I’ve left Zackenberg and reached a place with an internet connection.

Zackenberg station took me by surprise, suddenly we were there and rapidly approaching a collection of wooden huts and containers and some tent-like structures. The snow in the valley has melted completely, just some white on the hill-tops, so it reminded me of Switzerland rather than the white snowy Arctic of previous trips. Well, it is summer. And now I know what’s attracting those entomologists. Two surprisingly warm weeks have brought the mozzies out in force.


July 15, 2009 | 2:53 pm