Icebergs and Glaciers

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August 19th 2019
Published: August 22nd 2019
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I haven't had Wi-Fi or cell phone service for a few days. We were in a remote camp.

Today we left Ilulissat to go on the boat that would take us to Eqi Glacier. The boat was quite full of people, some just out for the day and some like us who will stay at the Ice Camp.

The boat trip took 3 ½ hours and we traveled up the fjord towards the Glacier. We passed so many icebergs – all sizes, all shapes, all textures. I took so many pictures and videos of the icebergs. As we approached the Glaciers the icebergs got bigger – I mean huge, as big as an aircraft carrier. At one point we went through this ice mush to get further up the fjord.

There are 2 glaciers at the end of the fjord. The one we went to is Eqi Glacier and has a very active face. We went back and forth in front of the glacier for 2 hours. The guides say that this glacier is on bedrock and since it is being pushed from above, it calves frequently. We didn’t see any big pieces but it was very active when we were there.

Since we were 1 km away from the glacier, the noise would come to us after the piece broke off so we had to be very attentive. The guides got some glacier ice for us and explained facts about the ice. There are bubbles in the ice that get trapped when the ice forms. You can see the age of the ice by how compressed the bubbles are. When pieces break off the glacier there are 3 noises: initially the bubbles explode, then the ice comes crashing down, then the ice falls into the water. The ice hits the bedrock below the water and breaks into small pieces. The water is shallow near the face of the glacier and the area around this glacier has small pieces of ice because it hits the bedrock and breaks apart. The face is about 180 meters high and it is about 3-4 kilometers wide.

The other glacier nearby is floating on the water and massive pieces break off. That’s where the massive icebergs come from. The glacier just south of Ilulissat is also active and sheds 10 times as much ice as Eqi Glacier. I think we are going there on Thursday.

The weather was great today, and the guide said that distances are hard to judge because the air is so dry. Seems counterintuitive that the air in Greenland is dry, but it is. So when he said we were 1 km away from the glacier, it didn’t look that far.

When we got off the boat we had to walk up to the “safe” zone. If large pieces break off there can be a tsunami and it is dangerous to be by the shore. Once we got to the safe zone the staff gave us more safety instructions. We walked up to the dining hall and they told us about the hikes nearby, the time for meals, and our cabin assignments.

I have a standard cabin which does not have power or water. The dining area has outlets so I can charge my phone, and the toilets and showers are next to the dining hall.

I am in cabin #10 which looks directly out to the glacier (they all do). It’s a cute cabin and I think I will be quite comfortable. I have a musk ox blanket, that's a first for me.

The sound the calving makes sounds like thunder. Our camp is about 5 kilometers away from glacier. Sound travel just under a kilometer/second, so by the time we hear the noise at camp the ice has already fallen off into the ocean.

I met the students from Zurich that are studying the glacier. They are staying on the tents. I will give lots more information about that in tomorrow’s writeup.

We have had fabulous food on this trip. All meals here are included: musk ox, cod, vegetables, soup, dessert. I had a Greenlandic coffee after dinner: whiskey, kalua, coffee, whipped cream, and grand marnier. Then we went to Lisbeth’s yurt (she works with Jan) and Jan brought 3 more types of liquor. All this while sitting in front of a glacier.

The calving happened all night long, and I could hear it inside my cabin. A few times my windows rattled. Also, it never got totally dark. There is 4 ¾ hours between sunset and sunrise, and I got up at 2:30 a.m. and it was still twilight.

Additional photos below
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