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.

We’re anchored

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.

– Andrew

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