You know you have been invited to dinner with field scientists when you see this on the porch.
It is our last day today. The day is filled with packing and relaxing a bit before the three day journey back to Maine including overnight stops at Kangerlussuaq International Science Support and again in Copenhagen. Yesterday morning was spent working out to the airport packing up and preparing gear to be shipped out or stored for a few members of the team who are returning late summer to get equipment off of the ice sheet. We had dinner with another team working on a different project who arrived two days ago and it was cool to hear about another project related to the ice sheet and logistics they have in place.
A Series For You and Yours
I created a photo series during my time exploring and being out and about that document things about life, people, technology, and economics. The team assisted and pointed out circles of interest to help along the way. They are amazing humans and I will miss every one of them something terrible when we leave. They have taught me a lot about science, tenacity, passion, detail, organization, adaptation, and ambition. It is to them that I dedicate this series.
Its local name in the Greenlandic language is Erfalasorput, which means "our flag". Waves of immigration. Dorset, Thule, Inuit, Vikings, Norse, Christian missionaries, Danish colonizers, American occupiers. Greenland is a constituent country of the Kingdom of Denmark. The US explored options and even offered to buy Greenland three times in 1867, 1946, and 2019. Greenland is not for sale. On 21 June 2009, Greenland gained self-rule although Denmark still controls foreign affairs and defense.
Greenlandic Carvers. Reindeer, narwhal, musk ox. The Greenlandic Tupilak protects. Tourism has increased demand for traditional craftsmanship.
Busy Fishing. Shrimp, halibut, red fish, and salmon make up to 90% of Greenlandic exports. From 2010-2019 tourism exploded then shut down again during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fishing helped stabilize economy during that time with help of Danish subsidies. Balancing tourism is a major goal.
Knud Rasmussen. Rasmussen was a beloved Greenlandic–Danish polar explorer and anthropologist of Inuit Danish heritage. He is referred to as the Son of Greenland, and widely known and respected among Inuit peoples of Greenland and Canada.
Front Door. Homes were built of of stone and peat until authorities forced modernization of Greenlandic Inuit and removed families from rural settlements to town in the 1960s. Colonial color coding system identified functions of buildings. Red for teacher's or minister's houses, schools, trade, yellow for doctors and hospitals, green for mechanics, skilled laborers, blue for fisheries workers, and black for police stations. Today it is whatever the owner wishes. Land belongs to no one. Only houses do.
The Pilot. Transporter, life saver, friend, and field work schedule dictator who takes orders from the weather. Our pilot Victor was part of the team the entire time we were here. Sometimes this happens and sometimes pilots change daily when scientists are working on the ice sheet. Availability and weather makes flexibility and problem solving necessary in polar regions.
The Hannaford of Ilulissat. Actually more like Shaw's, only with more limited produce section thanks to polar island life. Sometimes ships can arrive navigating around ice. Sometimes not.
Holding. An aerial view of sea ice holding icebergs hostage. They look so small. Face to face, icebergs are huge. Ilulissat is the Kalaallisut word for "IcebergsA floating body of ice that has broken away from a glacier.."
Ice Melt. Warming climate responsible for changes. Hunting and fishing ground transportation shifts, reduced numbers of dog sleds, more boats, more snowmobiles, more airplanes.
Sled Dog Chain. Every adult dog has one by law. There are no pictures of adult dogs I took without one, although one day I did see one who escaped. Sled dogs can outrun just about anything and they are incredibly fast. If they weren't chained, they would run.
Icefjord Snowman. I observed a lot of children and families and did not take pictures of any because frankly, that is creepy and I would not want it done to Gavin and I. I did not see children being carried and they walk everywhere, no matter how slow. Parents and grandparents patiently waited. Restaurants all have board games that families and friends play. Interaction without cell phones is a refreshing and welcome sight.
WHOI. I owe Dr. Sarah Das the biggest thanks for having faith in me and offering a position on the team. This project fundamentally altered my life as a teacher and human. Every team member is a friend for life.
Propeller. Air Greenland Airbus H155. French built. Didn't get a ride in that one. Sure is pretty though. Air Greenland and various cruise liners will bring an estimated 50,000 tourists to this small town of 4,600. Gift and curse according to local sources.
Game of Skill. The darts of Greenland, only floating atop water and throwing harpoons. From a kayak.
Disko Bay Night Light. Crazy night sunlight through a house door window. This is the land of the midnight sun.
Ilulissat Traffic Mirror. Dr. Behn and Dr. Das walk past Cafe Iluliaq. Although many cars are on the roads around town, a lot of people walk everywhere they go. It is common to see a steady stream of pedestrians during rush hour or after school.
Run Greenland. Trail marker in the The Ilulissat Icefjord UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ran every one of them with stunning views along the coast of the icefjord.
Lightbulb. Yes. Electricity. Homes all have it. Greenlanders do not live in igloos or peat huts.
Tools of Seismology. Sensors pick up a variety of things. We are going to see just how many things about an ice sheet over the next few months.
Compass. Direction is a big deal. For safety, technology, and reliable data.
Patience. The thing about screwing on sensor plates is the lineup. Lots of layers. Patience is a requirement and the ability to work through things. There wasn't wind inside, so that was a bonus. Sometimes this needs to be done on the ice sheet with wind ripping through everything.
Greenlandic Kayak. Necessity for fishing, hunting, recreation, and fun.
Bowl of Heaven. Greenlandic soups and stews are filled with goodness from ocean.
The Mug. Afternoon coffee on a day off.
Cafennguaq. The yogurt breakfast bowl. Delicious and nutritious.
Cryoconites. A potential thesis in the making.
Solo. Remote sensor sits atop an ice sheet waiting to be hooked up.
Curled Up Cozy. Sled dogs are always outside. They are kept outdoors in all weather because they are adapted to it. They are provided shelter, however, what I saw was most of them napping on top of it.
Recycling From Bottle Perspective. The bottles are thicker and more sturdy and the deposit much steeper.
Glare of Midnight Sun. Even through a filter, the brightness pierces the soul directly through the retina.
Until next time Greenland.
I can't wait to see you all. Questions about anything above have ready to go. See you soon!