Our journey begins below the Arctic Circle, in Kangerlussuaq, a former US military base on the west coast of Greenland. The rounded, glacial landscape is covered in low, coarse brush, Muskoxen browse the tundra and a raging river drains the ice from Russell Glacier further inland.
Kangerlussuaq is a small airport village of about 500 people; the air stirred with dust as battered, workhorse trucks drive by. This is the home of the Kangerlussuaq International Scientific Centre, endearingly referred to as KISS, where scientists gather from around the world to conduct field studies, or simply to pass through on their way to more remote regions of Greenland.
More than 60 scientists and crewmembers arrived from Copenhagen and New York on July 27th. Some of us found familiar faces from past fieldwork or shared institutions, and others were impatient to meet the various team members with whom they will be working closely for the next 5 weeks. Kanger has a lot to offer; easy access to the ice sheet, some incredible hikes along the surrounding ridges, shallow lakes that get warm enough for dipping, and one hike in particular that brings you in direct contact with the small but impressive Russell Glacier. However, our research brings us much further north. We boarded an Air National Guard Hercules flight to reach Thule Air Base, where the I/B Oden anchored offshore, waiting for her much-anticipated passengers.
The Oden is a sight to behold – tall and ice-strengthened, with 6 decks, a wide bow, a large helo pad, a luxurious bridge (open to scientists at any time), and tons of space for us to conduct all kinds of operations from the ship. We will be doing everything from coring (to study physical/chemical/biological properties of the sediment) and CTD casts (to measure water properties), to multi-beam mapping (to study the seafloor).
We’re currently heading toward Petermann Fjord, along Kane Basin. Stay tuned….