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In the world of ice, water, and whales

The colossal white fairyland is quiet, still, motionless. Suddenly cracking, ripping, and crashing envelops my ears breaking the intense silence with an awesome power. I squint through the glare of the arctic summer sun trying to catch a glimpse of the ice that has just broken off, somewhere jumbled in the chaotic transition from ice sheet to water (the glacier terminus). In fact, this glacier (Sermeq Kujalleq) in Ilulissat icefjord is one of the most productive and fastest flowing glaciers in the world. The glacier has doubled it’s speed in the last 10 years and now flows at a rate of 40 m/day (130 ft/day) and produces about 10% of all the icebergs in Greenland. The glacier calves (breaks off) around 46 cubic kilometers of ice per year. To put that to scale, 46 cubic kilometers is roughly the annual consumption of water in the entirety of the USA. While it’s hard to appreciate scale in a picture, here are some attempts at capturing it.

 

If I’ve learned one thing today, it’s that sound travels far in the arctic. That’s also what clued me into the whales feeding in the bay. Believe it or not, I could hear the whales breathing from miles away. Even when they were only a speck out in the water, their heavy breathing sounded as if they were right next to me. Despite the fact that the whales were active all day, I struggled to get a good picture. I think they outsmarted me.

I’ll have to sign off now because I need to pack up and prepare my gear for boarding the helicopter to the field camp tomorrow morning… but get excited for lots of blogs to come when I get back off the ice! Here’s a very cute sled dog puppy and one more picture of Ilulissat to leave you with!

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