Search Results for Tag: Zackenberg
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.
DateJuly 15, 2009 | 2:53 pm
Late Night Ice
I wanted to go down and look at what’s known as “the harbour”, taking advantage of the long hours of sunlight. Lars, who’s the deputy scientific leader and in charge of the station at the moment, kitted me out with a vhf radio in case of emergencies. I followed “the road” (tracks made by the camp vehicle, a funny contraption with 3 wheels on either side) to the beach of the Sound and was rewarded by finding giant chunks of ice along it and spectacular views of the water in that special deep blue you get in the Arctic summer night.
DateJuly 15, 2009 | 2:45 pm
The Way to Greenland
Have arrived at Zackenberg station after a spectacular trip, with the weather perfect for the trip from Constable Point, our first stop in E. Greenland, and here. I have the option of either writing a longer entry here or sending a photo, as there is no direct internet access and our satellite connection only allows us emails of a small size. For today, I’ll leave the text in favour of a picture or two. More tomorrow.
DateJuly 15, 2009 | 9:54 am
I’m writing this in Akureyri, northern Iceland, where I have to spend tonight, the departure point for the scientific charter plane to Greenland tomorrow morning. It took me 12 hours to get here, via the capital, Reykjavik. Iceland is looking very green at the moment.
This is certainly one of the world’s more picturesque little airports.
The Akureyri runway
This is not a big place, but it’s the most populated of Iceland’s towns outside the capital. It’s at the centre of North Iceland and a base for visiting a lot of this country’s natural attractions, geysers, hot pools etc, also a hub for getting to the eastern side of Greenland.
We’ve come west as well as north, and there’s two hours time difference to Germany. Of course the sun is still shining and I hope the curtains in my room are thick enough to convince me it is actually night and time for sleep. It’s a good 15 degrees cooler than home, so a good preparation for heading up to Arctic Greenland tomorrow. I met two Finnish insect scientists on the way here, also on their first trip to Zackenberg Station. They’re hoping their equipment will be waiting for them at the airport, having been sent well ahead.
Our plane will be a Twin Otter, the tried and trusty vehicle for this kind of expedition, it seems. We’ll be stopping once or twice on the way, depending on weather conditions and other scientists and supplies needing to be picked up.
More from Zackenberg tomorrow.
DateJuly 13, 2009 | 9:35 pm
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.
DateJuly 10, 2009 | 10:56 am