During my time in Greenland this summer, I was able to meet and talk with several people from Polar Field Services (who do a lot of the logistics work for supporting scientists working in Greenland). They were very excited about the groups I am involved in (IGERT and iisPACS) and wanted me to write a blog about my journeys to Greenland and share some pictures, as a way to get more people interested in science by seeing the type of work that is out there. The link to the blog is below:
Thanks for your interest!
Russel Glacier to the east of Kangerlussuaq
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On Tuesday, August 12th, there was a fairly large ice dam break on a lake along the edge of the ice sheet. Annie and I were out sampling lakes near the margin when we saw the remnants of what appeared to be a much larger lake. The first sign was a group of large blocks of ice sitting on the slope about 20 meters above the height of the current water level. When we started looking around, we noticed the high water line all around the valley and even on the ice. It also appears that there are many past fluctuations in the water height in this lake as well, as there is a lack of vegetation up to a certain height on the slope all around the area (much higher than the recent lake level). When we returned to KISS later that evening, our suspicions were confirmed by a group of students researching the meltwater hydrology. There was a water rise in the river in Kangerlussuaq but nowhere near as extreme as the flooding that destroyed the bridge.
Lake after ice dam break. Large ice blocks left on the slope at previous water level.
- Large ice blocks left after drainage event. You can see the old water line on the ice across the lake.
This shows the potential lake height from past events
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Greetings from Kangerlussuaq! Annie Putman and myself have finally arrived in Greenland after our constantly changing field plans and a chaotic couple of weeks of planning and packing. We are traveling as a part of the iisPACS group (Isotopic Investigation of Sea-ice on Precipitation in the Arctic Climate System), led by Xiahong Feng and Eric Posmentier of Dartmouth College, and John Burkhart of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research. We showed up to some rainy weather but did have a few breaks in the clouds to see the beautiful landscape, which was great for Annie’s first time to Greenland!
Break of sunshine through the clouds looking east from Kangerlussuaq
- Hanging out by the LC-130 in Happy Valley (Goose Bay, Canada) during a mid flight fuel stop (and ice cream break!)
During the trip we will be based out in Kangerlussuaq for the first week and then travel to the town of Qaanaaq in Northwest Greenland for the second half. In Kangerlussuaq, I will be continuing the lake research I started during last year’s IGERT Greenland Field Seminar. We will be resamping the same lakes from last year (and the lakes sampled by Xiahong in 2009) and measuring the water’s isotopic composition. By looking at the interannual variability of the lake water composition along with weather observations for the region, we can gain a greater understanding of the local hydrologic cycle, especially the processes of evaporation and transpiration.
Lake near the ice sheet sampled in 2011
For the second half of the trip, we will travel north to the town of Qaanaaq for the iisPACS project. In Qaanaaq, we are very excited to meet and work with school teacher, Dan Daorana Normann, and his students. Qaanaaq is a very important site for us since it has a high storm frequency and is at a very high latitude. We will be setting up a weather station at their school for continuous weather information and setting up a precipitation collector where rain and snow events will be collected by Dan and his students to be sent to Dartmouth College to measure the isotopic composition. We look forward to sharing our knowledge of meteorology and climate dynamics along with learning from their vast knowledge base to gain a better understanding of the region. This site will help us greatly towards our goal of understanding the link of sea ice extent and precipitation in the Arctic and the potential effects of climate change.
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