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Notes from the Field

Arrived in Kulusuk!

August 11th, 2016 by Stefan Ligtenberg

Last Saturday, part of the team arrived safely in Kulusuk! Olivia, Clem and Stefan flew in two hours with Air Iceland from Reykjavik (Iceland) to Kulusuk (East Greenland). This is one of a few international airports on the east side of Greenland and also the home of our container full of camping and science equipment. For me, this is my first time in Greenland and I am glad I can share these first impressions with you.

Olivia and I about to board the plane to Kulusuk.

Olivia and I about to board the plane to Kulusuk.

The current weather in Kulusuk is absolutely splendid: blue skies, light wind and around 5 C (about 40 F). This also provided us with very nice views from the plane. One hour into the flight, the dark mountains of the Greenlandic coast appeared, covered in snowy patches or more permanent glaciers. Behind them, in the distance, the vast white ice sheet was visible. As we flew closer, the icebergs drifting in the ocean also become more and more impressive. Glaciers that terminate in the ocean sometimes lose large portions of their floating part as icebergs, which can ‘survive’ for quite some time in the ocean. The white ice in contrast with the light blue water surrounding is really stunning. After 15 minutes of watching in awe and snapping photo after photo, we landed on the dirt runway of the Kulusuk airport.

First view of the coast of East Greenland. The ocean is filled with enormous icebergs.

First view of the coast of East Greenland. The ocean is filled with enormous icebergs.

 

Fantastic view of a huge iceberg; the walls are likely 10-20 meters high. Also note the nice crevasses (the diagonal lines) on the surface.

Fantastic view of a huge iceberg; the walls are likely 10-20 meters high. Also note the nice crevasses (the diagonal lines) on the surface.

We brought our bags to Hotel Kulusuk, which is actually the only hotel in the village of Kulusuk, and decided to use the rest of the day to check on all our equipment. Most of the tents, sleeping bags, and science equipment is stored in a large container at the airport. We walked to the airport (about 20 min) and on our way there, we heard a loud noise and saw part of a gigantic iceberg collapse, very impressive.

At the airport, we luckily found all 33 boxes we shipped this spring nicely stacked in a corner of the building. With that, the big inventory could start! We unloaded the container and organized everything in different categories: camping, science, snow mobile, and not-needed-this-year. We made great progress, but need a couple more days to organize everything and put it in boxes (about 70 in total!). In the end the limiting factor is the weight that can be carried by the helicopter. The schedule for the coming days is that Rick and Kip arrive Sunday, Nick on Monday, and on Wednesday and Thursday we get transferred to the field site. At least, that’s the plan.

Clem and Olivia using airport baggage carts to move our boxes filled with equipment.

Clem and Olivia using airport baggage carts to move our boxes filled with equipment.

 

All our stuff in the container.

All our stuff in the container.

 

All our stuff out of the container.

All our stuff out of the container.

 

Our dinners for the next three weeks.

Our dinners for the next three weeks.

Finally, a little bit about myself. I am Stefan Ligtenberg and a post-doc at Utrecht University in The Nethelands. During my current 3-year project, I aim to simulate 3D water flow in the firn aquifer using a computer model (vertical percolation of surface meltwater through the snow to recharge the aquifer and lateral flow downslope within the aquifer). To do so, I use a snow model in combination with an adapted groundwater flow model. One of the important constraints for these models is the so-called hydraulic conductivity; how fast can the water move through the porous snow. One of the main goals of this years field work is to better measure this conductivity.

Greetings from Greenland,
Olivia, Clem and Stefan.

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One Response to “Arrived in Kulusuk!”

  1. Marge says:

    Superb inomifatron here, ol’e chap; keep burning the midnight oil.