Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Home again. Tune in next time!

Hi all-- I'm back in Cambridge again. I had uneventful flights from Kangerlussuaq to Copenhagen and then back to London. So, I'm now left with a bit of a cold and plenty of data to process. The next few months will be taken up with office tasks, and then the planning for next year will begin again. I'll probably have a longer season next year, so tune in then and see what happens! Same polar time, same polar channel! Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Back to Kangerlussuaq

This morning, all my work at Summit completed, I packed up my sleeping bag and boarded a plane for Kangerlussuaq, the first of 3 flights on the journey home. Today's flight had in store a special treat- the route took us down the Jakobshaven glacier to where it emptied into the sea, and past the small town of Illulisat, north along the coast from Kangerlussuaq.

We approach the end of the fjord, where icebergs float out into the sea.

the town of Illulisat

Ever hear the expression 'tip of the iceberg'? It's used because icebergs float about 90% submerged, so you only see a tenth of the ice that's there. Here you can see some of the ice below, connecting the dual tips of this berg.

Tomorrow, I'll be flying on the Air Greenland flight to Coppenhagen, spend the night in Coppenhagen, and then catch the flight to London and home. Almost there!

24 hours at Summit

I've made it to Summit, and I managed to finish all the things I set out to do. First thing in the morning was to check the weather, to see if we were likely to fly. All was looking good so I went to a quick breakfast and got ready for the flight. The 3 hour flight to Summit left on time and was uneventful, so I was on the snow at Summit by about 11. The crew this summer has been busy over the summer, and have lifted the main structure, called the Big House, about 15 feet avobe the snow. To put this feat in perspective, when the sumer began the building was buried in snow almost up to the roofline.

The Big House back up on stilts.

After gathering my things together, I went to my first task, logging a new borehole about 5 km from the main camp. This all went well, and I was able to get everything done in a couple of hours. I left the site with a short casing that protrudes from the snow to enable us to return in future and access the hole again.

Back at camp, I trained the science technicians who will be running my experiment over the winter, and that went quite well as they are fast learners. After dinner I went over some more of my science with them and finished writing the 'instruction manual' for them to refer to over the winter. Then to bed, in an available Arctic Oven tent.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Commuting to Raven

I didn't post yesterday, because it was a day of layover, in town, and there didn't seem to be too much to write about. Today was different, though. I flew to Raven, did my work there, and managed to catch the last plane back from Raven, completing my round-trip in one day, something I'd never done before. I had to work fast.

The flight to Raven takes us out over the ice edge, where the ice sheet comes out towards the coast and spreads its fingers wide.

Ice spreading out at the edge of the ice sheet. Its surface is crossed with many cravasses, cracks formed when the ice is under stress. Some crevasses can be quite deep and present a hazard to people trying to get across the ice.

I arrived at Raven, where Drew and Silver are just finishing out thier season. They gave me a warm welcome, and I wished I could stay around longer to visit with them, but I had to be off to my site and get to work if I wanted to catch the last plane home.

Drew Abbott, at Raven camp.

To make a quick story short, everything went fine and I was able to catch the last plane out. On the flight back, I was invited up to the flight deck and we flew in low over the ice edge which was a treat.

Look at the color of the water in this melt pool! These pools collect at the surface late in the summer and eventually drain to the glacier bed.

Crevasses on the way back to Kangerlussuaq. Imagine trying to find a safe route through there!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Headed back out!

Well, I've been officially on the go for about 24 hours by now. Not 24 hours straight, mind you, but I left Cambridge a little over 24 hours ago. This will really be a whirlwind tour- in 8 days, I'll go from Cambridge to Copenhagen, Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq, Kangerlussuaq to Raven Camp, Raven Camp to Kangerlussuaq, Kangerlussuaq to Summit Camp, Summit Camp to Kangerlussuaq, Kangerlussuaq to Copenhagen, Copenhagen to Cambridge. That's a lot of flying. 8 flights in 8 days, to be exact. You might think this means I'll be flying every day, but in fact tomorrow I won't fly at all, because there are no flights available. Of course this means that at some point I have 2 flights on one day, and hopefully that will happen in Tuesday. My goal for Tuesday is to fly to Raven, get my work done as quickly as possible, and get back that afternoon. Then Wendesday I'll fly to Summit, spend the night, fly back to Kangerlussuaq Thursday, and head back to Copenhagen Friday, to Cambridge Saturday.

So how does this all start out? Well, I don't own a car, so to get to the airport I needed to transport me, cold weather gear (22 Kilos of it), and my other gear (10 kilos of that) to the bus station. Fortunately I have a bicycle trailer.

It's mandatory to spend the night in Copenhagen, because the flight to Greenland leaves at 9:15 in the morning, and no flight from England can get there that early. Similarly, on the way back, the flight from Greenland arives at 7:30, and no connections will get back to England that night. So I flew to Copenhagen, checked my luggage at the counter, and took the train into Copenhagen to my hotel. After checking in, I took a stroll past Tivoli Gardens, along the famous pedestrian streets of Copenhagen. It was a lively saturday night and there were many people out and about. In the morning, I took the train back to the airport again and got on the plane to get here, Kangerlussuaq.

Tomorrow, the 109th Air National Guard will arrive with 3 LC-130's and many more passengers headed out to the camps. I'll get my things ready to go for tuesday, and might start work on a manuscript that I'm preparing. But for now, it's time to relax fo the evening!