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Drop-off at Daneborg Base

This is the runway at Daneborg, on the coast, around 25 km from Zackenberg.
There’s still a little ice on the sea here.(But all the scientific research at Z. confirms the trend of a decrease in the perennial sea-ice).

There is an old trapper station here, used nowadays with the other buildings here by the Danish military SIRIUS patrol, the one that’s famous for its dogsled activities. That goes out to patrol the coast and surrounding areas in the winter.

Denmark is keen to establish its sovereignty here on the remote north-east coast. The national park is the biggest park in the world, and there’s not much in the way of human activity up here. The territory of East Greenland was disputed by Norway early in the 20th century. These days, there’s a lot of talk of increasing military activities up here because of the growing interest in the natural resources of the Arctic, especially the supplies of oil thought to lie hidden under the ice at the moment. The parties in the Danish parliament recently agreed to create a special Arctic Task Force, combining those elements of their military units (mainly for Greenland and the Faroe Islands) specialized in Arctic activities. A Greenland home rule adviser told me he does not see this as increased militarization of the Arctic, as some fear, but just as an organisational shift, which will not include more resources. It certainly means a change in focus.There are likely to be more aircraft coming in here, at any rate.
Denmark has put forward claims to extend the continental shelf by territory around Greenland. Other Arctic states have put in their own claims. The UN commission on the Law of the Sea has to decide who owns what territory and could therefore lay claim to any oil, gas or mineral reserves found there.
Fuel for the base and Zackenberg is shipped into Daneborg, then flown on in smaller quantities.

Time to take off, and for the next stretch I have the famous POF twin otter all to myself.

This is going to be spectacular, as we are moving in from the coast a little over the icy mountains. Taking pictures in this historic plane can be challenging:

But I have a couple of windows to choose from – as long as I can reach them without loosening the belt.

I love the changing landscape and all the features you can see in the snow, flying this low:

I have many more of these ice-blog views, but will close for now with this one.

Nicely framed, huh? Courtesy of Twin Otter Pof.
Next stop, Krume Langso, the “long, curved lake”.


July 24, 2009 | 3:11 pm



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Destination Ice Island

Greenland is the world’s largest island, with an area of some 2.2 million square km. Only around 410,000 square km of this are NOT covered by ice.
The northernmost land area in the world, situated less than 730km from the North Pole, is on Greenland, Cape Morris Jesup. The island’s southernmost point, Cape Farewell is 2,670 km south of this, so it really is a huge area, and very sparsely populated.
The island’s climate is Arctic, apart from a few sheltered valleys in South Greenland. The average temperature during the warmest month of the year does not rise above 10C.
My first destination will be Zackenberg Ecological Monitoring Station

I’ve been following the weather online, using data from Daneborg, which is around 25km from Zackenberg, and also has a base used by the station’s visiting scientists, and, incidentally, the Sirius dogsled patrol during the winter.
Weather forecasts for Daneborg

I’ll be arriving at Zackenberg, all being well, on Tuesday some time, after leaving Germany on Monday and spending a night on Iceland. More about the travel details later.
The Tuesday forecast looks good, sunshine, with a cool 4 degrees, dropping to 2 at night, although at this time of year there is not a great deal of difference, as it stays light most of the time. I’m hoping the forecast will be right and we’ll get some of that beautiful clear,blue Arctic weather. There’s always a danger of the other sort, with lots of fog.
Greenland is part of Denmark, but enjoys Home Rule, which means it deals with most of its own domestic affairs. It still has very close ties with Denmark and benefits from annual subsidies from Copenhagen, as well as free education, hospital and other services for Greenlandic citizens. The island is otherwise dependent on fishing at the moment.
The changes in the Arctic climate, which could open up access to natural resources now well under ice, will have major implications for the people of Greenland. Managing this and the whole adaptation process will be quite a challenge for the Home Rule authorities. But more about all that in the weeks to come.
More Information on Greenland from Greenland Home Rule

According to information published by the Arctic Council earlier this year summarizing a study on Snow, Water, Ice and Permaforst in the Arctic, if the ice sheet were to melt, the global seal level rise would be almost 7 meters. This figure would have devastating effects around the planet. No-one is saying this is going to happen soon, but the Greenland Ice Sheet is losing mass, and will be highly susceptible to the predicted strong warming of this part of the Arctic. I’ll be talking to the scientists working on all the complex processes which are part of climate change first-hand and finding out about their work in the field over the next few weeks.


July 10, 2009 | 10:56 am



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