We're on the Ice!
- 14 Jun 06, 06:44 PM
Hello everyone. We've had a certain amount of difficulty logging on, but I'm on-line now sitting over looking the Tasiilaq Fjord in East Greenland. I'm here with Gabrielle and Beatrice to see the Arctic melt back for real. One of the most important discoveries for me here is the nature of ice in all it's Arctic forms. The picture here is us [G & B above] and Norwegian ice expert Ola Johannessen from the Nansen Environmental & Remote Sensing Center in Bergen, Norway.
Check out this simply amazing picture Ralph Raynor took last Sunday. We all flew north in the East Greenland area to the Helheim Fjord. This fjord is a glacier - a river of ice being pushed down by the simply vast expanse of Ice sheet.
You can see the ice sheet (polar ice cap) as the clear icy background on the horizon of the photo. Greenland is bigger than Australia and this ice sheet covers most of it. The ice sheet at its highest/deepest is over 3000m. This phenomenal weight of ice (second only to Antarctica) flows down and generates tongues of ice (glaciers). Look at the picture and see the very jagged ice that makes up the glacier. This massively scarred river of ice is this pattern, we're told by Ola, because it is flowing quicker. It's flowing quicker because of global warming Ola tells us. It's a bit confusing isn't it - we're hear a lot about glacier recession. The recession of the glacier front is visible when it has off loaded its ice bergs. The river of ice flows until it meets the sea and great chunks fall off and float in the East Greenland current, some for many years. We're standing on one of those above. So, you have ice sheet, ice bergs and glacer ice - all the same "source" -ultimately generated from show falling on the ice sheet. Now look at this picture.
This is us standing on another ice berg, looking at sea ice. Sea ice (fast ice, pack ice, ice flows) is formed when the sea freezes. In winter this forms a skirt around the Arctic. It's this sea ice - which can either be annual or can last for years - that is proving to be so sensitive to global warming. Quick to form, quick to melt - this is the miner's canary. Ola tells us the sea ice is disappearing fast. And it's the combination of the ice sheet off loading more ice bergs and the melting of the sea ice that is causing concern. We'll write more very soon. But hey, the last photograph. That's me on the left with the silly hat on, Beatrice next to me, then Ola and Gabrielle on the right.
Standing on an ice berg - that was one hell of an experience and we've got some amazing stuff for you to listen to.