After two full days at sea sailing through fog and ice, the Clipper Adventurer has found a safe place inside a southern Greenlandic fjord (which is formed when glaciers create a U shaped valley) to anchor down in. From the deck could be seen an expanse of towering mountains, lively glaciers, and floating icebergs. Sunshine broke through the fog and sparkled the water; blue skies meeting the jagged landscape. Everyone was anxious to explore, and our discoveries were nothing short of breathtaking.
Our zodiac landing brought us right up to the front of a glacier which rested gently on the slope of a mountain. Zodiacs are small motor boats that bring about ten people to shore where the ship can not reach because of unsuitable terrain. Upon landing, our staff expert Eric presented to us the way glaciers move and how they interact with the rocks around them. Glaciers make up 80% of Greenland, and they are actively shaping mountainsides by carrying and shifting large rocks that rub against the mountain under high pressures. We all climbed up the glacier to taste the fresh water that ran down in little streams along the surface. This water is some of the purest and most fresh in the world, and many of us filled up bottles to bring home.
Before returning to the Clipper Adventurer, we jumped back in a zodiac to cruise along another nearby glacier which came right up into the ocean. Weaving through icebergs and bergie bits to approach it, we were soon overwhelmed by its magnificent size. From the deck of the ship it did not appear nearly as large but up close it was simply grand; featuring a jagged and uneven front that’s white with hints of blue. Always active this time of year because of the warming temperatures, we were in the right place at the right time to see the glacier calving. This is when chunks of ice fall off its face, plummeting to the sea below. It begins with a loud crack, and is followed by a thundrous rumbling of ice as pieces break free from the glacier and drop into the ocean. After a spectacular splash, it becomes an iceberg. When these boulders of ice fall, they drop below the water and emerge with great upwards force due to their buoyancy. We were careful not to be caught in the way of one!
Greenland’s southern coast boasts spectacular natural wonders. From the captivating colours of the ocean to the bold presence of the glaciers, we were reminded of the beauty of our planet. Glaciers are lively and continue to play an increasingly active role in the global environment. Climate change is evident in this part of the world, as glaciers are shrinking in size and are melting earlier in the year. It is a growing issue, and one that demands immediate action from the global community. The science tells us why we need to protect it; the beauty convinces us.
Together let’s protect our poles and protect our planet.
Up next…the Students on Ice crew jump into a hot spring used by the Vikings and visit an Inuit community
While you’re waiting don’t just sit tapping your toe, find out more about Joey, Students on Ice and this amazing Arctic and expedition.