East Greenland Glaciology
Gordon Hamilton and Leigh Stearns
June 22 to July 26, 2005
Gordon Hamilton     Leigh Stearns

Gordon writes
Vestfjord, Scoresby Sund, East Greenland

We sailed through the night and woke this morning in another branch of Scoresby Sund, this time Vestfjord. We are here to conduct GPS surveys on Vestfjord Glacier. Hughie and Gordon left on a reconnaissance flight after breakfast. They found the last few kilometers of the fjord full of icebergs and sea ice, but spotted two good anchorages just outside the ice limit. They also flew up to the margin of the glacier and cached some survival equipment and GPS receivers. By the time they returned, the ship was pulling into one of the suggested anchorages.

The installation of markers on Vestfjord Glacier was pretty straightforward. Despite the heavy crevassing, we were able to find good safe landing sites. The markers were drilled in and the GPS receivers surveying in time for us to fly back to the ship for lunch. In the afternoon we flew back to the glacier and collected the receivers.

Sunday morning dawned cloudy and rainy. After breakfast we loaded the GPS receivers back into the helicopter for what turned out to be a very short flight. Hughie gained enough altitude to give us a good view all the way up the fjord which told us that the glacier was fogged in. Thirty seconds after taking off, and a very steep banking turn later, we were back on the helideck. Just in time for brunch! The clouds and fog burned off in the afternoon, so we were able to fly up to the glacier and deploy the GPS receivers for the second surveys. The receivers need to record for at least an hour so that we can calculate accurate differential positions between the glacier markers and our static reference station on the margin. The sun was shining and the pools filled by crystal clear mountain streams were too tempting to resist a quick swim. Yeah, it was cold, but not that cold!

The flight back to the ship was fantastic. Well, at least according to Gordon and Hugh who were sitting in the front seats. Leigh was tightly wedged into the back seat along with all our GPS receivers and survival equipment, and pretty much missed the views of muskoxen, lush south-facing mountain slopes, tumbling waterfalls nourished by the previous night's rain, glittering icebergs and deep blue fjord water. What goes around, comes around, though -- next time Gordon is sitting in the back seat!

The Arctic Sunrise was already sailing by the time we landed in the late afternoon. In warm sunny weather (12 C), we cleaned and re-arranged our equipment on the aft deck of the ship. DInner was eaten on the deck for the first time this cruise. The surrounding mountains and glassy calm fjord provided the perfect setting in which to celebrate the end of another successful glacier survey.

Saturday, July 2- Sunday, July 3, 2005



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