Today's journal is being written from my new room at Polarbrokka, our accommodations for the next month. I find myself extremely red-faced and glad to be winding down after a great meal from the folks here at Isfjord Radio at Kapp Linne. Due to our busy schedule, especially this first week, journals will be tough to fit in so I am warning any die-hard readers to polar bear with me (get it 'bear', we're in the arctic…just trying to make things easier for you). My plan to success involves getting back and writing in the evenings and then hopefully an early start to post when the internet is less finicky and under limited load (slow, slow internet when bogged down but one can imagine).
The day started off with us leaving UNIS and the student housing and meeting up to grab the last of the gear, survival suits (dry!), and heading as a caravan to the small boat yard where our boats awaited us. There, we donned extra layers we didn't think we'd need despite it being a beautiful day and loaded up the boats. The boats consisted of one with 8 roller coaster like seats and a 225 hp outboard and the other a souped up cargo type zodiac on steroids with a 250 hp motor. Dion approved of the transportation.
Our ride out to Kapp Linne
After posing my best arctic explorer stance, we took off.
My best arctic explorer pose.
Along the way we were treated with incredible views from the fjord. Tidewater glaciers terminated into the sea all along the northern shore and Mike and I vowed to one day get a better look at them up close. For reference, tidewater glaciers are those that end in the sea often with a calving front, or one that loses mass due to ice falling off the front face as bergs into the water. Other notable locations with such glaciers include Greenland and numerous in the Glacier Bay region of Alaska.
Looking north in Isfjord
We switched lead with the other boat off and on and would occasionally veer off course to say hello to a seal or watch what seemed to be a dozen Beluga whales breach over and over.
Our sister boat with gear headed to Isfjord Radio
Beluga whales breaching in the distance (notice white figures on the water)
Once we arrived at Isfjord radio we unloaded the boats, took stock of the accommodations, and moved into our rooms. It was then time to hit the field area because time in the field is at a premium and we were stoked to be there.
The buildings at Isfjord Radio, our home for the next 30...
The grouped met and jerry-cans of gasoline were loaded onto frame packs along with all the gear to get the un-inflated boats at Lake Linne going distributed among backpacks. Along the hike we encountered numerous tundra features including curious reindeer and frost polygons (clearly named for myself as the group agreed).
Curious Reindeer checking out our science huddle.
Actually, whether you were chomping at the bit for it or not, frost polygons are permafrost features that occur when micro-fractures in the tundra surface are exploited by moisture and the cracks then refreeze expand and eventually intersect each other creating polygonal shapes. In some areas they form near perfect hexagons while others they make more regular rectangular shapes.
Frost polygons on the way to Lake Linne
Once arriving at Lake Linne, the boats were inflated and floorboards installed. The next task of getting the motors going turned into almost an hour of petro-coersion to get them humming along happily. Once accomplished, we shuttled everyone and our gear to what we call the 'boat-yard' where the boats will occupy for the next month of field work. Supper-time.
One of our boats at Lake Linne. After a bit of work we were in business.
Along the walk back we discussed potential project ideas amongst the grow and ran into some of the craziest natural features I've seem to date. Called 'sorted stone circles,' these were areas where the permafrost mud in the active layer (that on top of permafrost which thaws annually) churned slowly over time like a boiling stew. In doing so it pushed the larger stones toward the exterior of the circles while keeping the finer grains inward. This made for an interesting set of discrete formations many are still convinced were created by trolls. True story.
World-class stone circles near Isfjord Radio.
Waving goodbye to the circles we cruised to the main building and sat down for a meal that couldn't be beat. Short team meeting to plan the next day's work and off to bed/free time/journaling. Time for rest and another packed day tomorrow. Good night (and wish us good luck). Oh, and I actually was able to run over to the main building to post tonight...not trying to mess with you...most posts will come from the am when internet is much better.