As Julia mentioned in her last blog post, I am a recent (very recent) Dartmouth grad tagging along with Julia for her summer of fieldwork. I will be assisting her with her research, but also doing some photo and video work of my own looking at the people and place that make up Kangerlussuaq.As it is my first time to Greenland and my first time doing field research, I thought I would share a bit about my initial impression of the area!
We flew into Kangerlussuaq on a C-130 Air National Guard plane with a whole crew of scientists headed to different destinations in Greenland for their research. I have never ridden in a plane with webbing for seats, cargo pallets shoved in the same compartment with us, and no side panels covering the wires and pipes on the wall. It was quite the experience! Despite the fact that we had to wear earplugs during the entire 6 hour flight, I did get to chat with some of the other scientists on the flight about where they were headed and what they are up to. It was really awesome to listen in on all sorts of different individuals, from a recent grad like myself to seasoned veterans making their 20thplus trip to Greenland, studying all sorts of different things, from ice cores to plant ecology, chatting together about their work.
After reading and snoozing a bit on the flight, Laura tapped me on the shoulder and, through unconventional sign language, let me know that we were now flying over Greenland. I maneuvered my way between cargo pallets and craned to look out a small porthole. The scenery was amazing! I was blown away as craggy peaks, giant blue fjords and meandering glaciers stretched out below me!
The town of Kangerlussuaq is based at the top of one of the fjords, near what in summer time is a silt-laden raging river filled from ice melt, flowing down from the ice sheet. The town itself is pretty small. Only about five hundred people live here, with tons of scientists and European tourists passing through in the summer. After deplaning the flight and hopping on a short bus ride to KISS (the Kangerlussuaq International Science Station), I was greeted by a row of buildings that looked like giant lego blocks, one of which turned out to be the station. We were assigned our rooms, threw our stuff down and then dug into some red chicken curry from one of the three restaurants in town.
Kanger is unlike any town I have been to before. Surrounded by rock faces, lush green hills and situated about 25 kilometers from the ice sheet, the town itself is an outcrop of brightly colored buildings plopped down onto a large gravel patch. Hanging out in town is much like the experience that I had on the C-130 interacting with lots of different scientists, but added to the mix are local Greenlanders and tons of internationals all seemingly here for a different reason.
Now that we have been here for a couple days, I am starting to settle into the swing of things just in time to head out into the field. On our first day we headed out to the ice-sheet (about an hour drive on bumpy gravel roads) so that I could see where we will be working. The landscape is breathtaking and I couldn’t ask for a better area to spend my summer! We are taking off into the field tomorrow after a couple days of preparations. Now the real work begins!
Until next time,