Why is it always so hard to find good parking?
by Guest Blogger
July 20, 2005
It’s 11:30 at night. The sun is just dipping below the
fjord walls, and Arne doesn’t like the drift of things.
in a small inlet, and the fjord is chock a block with floating glacier
ice. On the chart, I counted seven named glaciers surrounding this
fjord, and I imagine they’re all dumping ice into it. Everything from
big mountainous blocks to tiny ice cube sized bits is in here with us,
and all of it’s moving.
One big floe in particular is against our bow,
pushing us towards the rocky shore. No big deal as long as our anchor
holds, but better not to find out if it will. So Arne has the main
engines started, and off we head looking for someplace less crowded to
spend the night.
Today on the glacier
The science team took their first round of measurements today on
Kangerlussuaq glacier, located at the head of the fjord of the same
name. This glacier is an exciting one for Gordon and Leigh (University
of Main glaciologists) because NASA research in the mid and late
nineties found that it was thinning at about 10 meters per year.
According to Gordon, the melting of it is visible, and it has a messier
look then the previous ones. Lots of crumbly bits. While scouting with
the helicopter, Gordon and Hughie also saw a giant melt hole in the
glacier, about 12 meters wide, and lots of little melt-water rivers.
This time, the science team is taking extra sets of measurements –
deploying their GPS receivers in three staggered rows to get an idea of
how the ice in this glacier is flowing. Although visually stunning,
Kangerlussuaq glacier is proving the most challenging so far to work on.
The team had a hard time today finding places to land and set up their
equipment. Nonetheless, Gordon and Leigh want to spend longer here than
originally scheduled because something interesting is evidently
happening with this one. Gordon even took the unusual step of leaving
one of the GPS receivers out on the glacier overnight. A little risky,
considering the thing’s approximately $30,000 (US) price tag. However,
the spot he left it in looked stable enough, and it will give them some
data about how the glacier’s rate of flow changes over the course of a day.
Time to drag myself away from the scenery passing by, and get some
sleep. It could be a long night for the bridge crew though. Sometimes
good parking is hard to find.