Greetings from Baffin Bay

by Michelle Frey

June 29, 2009

Our ship, The Arctic Sunrise is currently heading north along the west coast of Greenland in a race against time. It’s destination is the disintegrating Petermann Glacier, but to reach the glacier our ship must pass through the Nares Strait, which could be flooded with dangerous sea ice at any moment.

Here is a blog from Dave, who is onboard the Arctic Sunrise

Greetings from Baffin Bay! As I write this from the campaign office on board our ship, the Arctic Sunrise, blue and white icebergs appear through the sea mist. We’re just south of the wonderfully named Disko Island, or Qeqertarsuaq, off the west coast of Greenland. A seal just popped its head up, to check out who is passing by. And we just crossed the Arctic Circle.

On board we’re got a diverse, international crew, hailing from countries that include China, India, Australia, New Zealand, the Ukraine, the US, Canada, Cyprus, UK, Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands. Ice navigators, captains, engineers, cooks, filmmakers, ice climbers and climatologists.

Earlier, we left the port of Sisimiut behind us; our last stop for a while, on what will be a three-month Arctic expedition to bear witness to the accelerating impacts of climate change and conduct scientific research that will help us better understand its ongoing effects the Greenland ice sheet, and rising sea levels. We’ve already got glacier and climate expert Jason Box on board – he’s the first of several scientists we’ll be working with during this trip, which will reach way beyond the normal realms of scientific research

Our first destination is Peterman Glacier, one of Greenland’s largest and most northerly glaciers. A massive chunk of ice – some 87 square kilometres – larger than New York’s Manhattan Island, is due to crack off from the glacier in the coming weeks. We intend being there when it happens. First though, we have to sail through the Nares Strait -an audacious task in itself; if successful, the Arctic Sunrise will be one of the first ships to navigate the strait so early in the year – it’s usually choked with sea ice.

After Petermann, we plan to head to Greenland’s east coast to research the effects of warm sub-tropical waters of the island’s glaciers. Finally, as the Arctic ice reaches its annual low point, the expedition will conduct scientific research in the melting pack ice north of the island of Svalbard. It’s a massive undertaking and most of us will be on board until the end of September.



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