While in the Nares Straits

Wednesday 15 July 2009

While in the Nares Straits, we have been busy getting what we can done [lots!] on Petermann. We are now departing south to avoid Arctic Ocean pack ice.

The ice is FINALLY drifting south through Nares Straits. This year has been exceptional because the sea ice has not consolidating in Nares Straits [between Greenland and Ellesmere Isand, Arctic Canada], but, rather, has formed an “ice arch” at the north end of Nares in the Lincoln Sea. We are avoiding getting trapped by the ice floes and having a delayed exit from the region by early August. We will seek shelter in the lee of Franklin Isand or further south in Wright Bay in northeastern Kane Basin.

While in Kane Basin, we’ll conduct oceanographic surveys and get some glaciology going on Humboldt, the northern hemisphere’s widest [100 km] glacier.

Morale on the ship has been high … we have been moored beside the Petermann Glacier front with main engines off [quiet] and the weather has been spectacular. Air temperatures have not been below 4 C [38 F] and have been as high as 14 C [58 F]. The clear skies and constant sun make it feel warm. I am wearing tee-shirts and shorts right now. I have not worn my hard shell pants, only my stretch guide pants. So, NOT SO COLD!

Temperatures have climbed steadily while here, melt intensity climbing, numerous waterfalls visible cascading far from the fjord walls.

Nares Straits Fjord Waterfall

I am meeting with a Chinese journalist on board; we will discuss the state of knowledge of Greenland’s cryosphere. Last night, I played table tennis with Alun [Welsh], Eric [Australian] the Zephan [Chinese].

We had an early morning helicopter flight to check the working of a GPS and a time lapse camera, install an iceberg tracker, and recover a temporary time lapse camera.

We saw multiple pods of narwhals today on our flight ‘home’ to the ship. They were feeding in silty water which apparently containing some source of food.

Nares Straits Narwhals

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Jason E. Box
Byrd Polar Research Center
guest scientist on Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise

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