The second floor of the Kangerlussuaq Efterskolia is bustling with activity as we start to wrap up our time here at the Field School. There are flowers to be identified, movies to be edited, samples to be tested, and calculations to be calculated. As the unfortunate author of this post recently discovered, there is no time for napping. He woke up from a brief snooze to find his head surrounded by an unstable tower of Danish geology books. Point taken.

    We started the day out with an exhilarating ride to Point 660, which is located near the end of Russell GlacierA mass of ice that persists for many years and notably deforms and flows under the influence of gravity.. Even before hiking out onto the ice we had spotted not one but two examples of the mighty Ukaleq, known in English as the Snow Hare. These fine specimens narrowly avoided being splattered our truck, which is only marginally controlled by the driver. Later in the day, another truck decided (supposedly of its own volition, but the driver may be partially responsible) to chase a roaming Musk Ox off the road.

    Musk Ox or Umimmak
    A musk ox poses by the side of the road near Russell Glacier.

    Musk Ox or Umimmak
    A musk ox running away from the JSEP paparazzi.

    Snow hare or Ukaleq
    A snow hare poses for photos by the side of the road near Russell Glacier.

    Snow hare or Ukaleq
    A snow hare fleeing up the steep slope.

    The point is, these vehicles seem to enjoy magnifying the many engineering shortcomings that Greenland’s longest highway has to offer. We’ve gotten to know that road intimately: each jolt and sand pit is like an old friend: an old friend who now hates your guts and wants nothing more than to slam your head into the window and/or door. There’s still an element of friendship there, but it’s fading fast.

    Once we reached Point 660 it was a short hike to the site of our ablation study. We measure ablation, or the melting of glacial ice, by drilling 1 meter deep holes in the ice. At Point 660 we drilled black ice, white ice, and ice beneath a small meltwater stream. We were able to measure how much the ice melted in a week by inserting bamboo poles into the boreholes. When we returned today, we saw a landscape transformed. The entire area had decreased in height by almost half a meter. The streams had shifted course, and were carving out a serpentine pattern in the landscape. Like a sped-up model of the world’s geological cycle, mountains had been eroded and river beds carved out.

    Point 660
    Meandering meltwater stream on the ice sheet at Point 660

    When we walked towards the glacier’s center we found a giant hole in the ice. Water had carved its way through a moulin, or glacial pond, and was pouring into the depths of the glacier. We seemed to be immersed in a different world. Only a thin line of little red flags, planted to show our path, connected us to reality.

    A moulin on the glacier at Point 660

    Point 660
    The hills and valleys of the edge of the ice sheet at Point 660.

    Later in the day we enjoyed a dinner of reindeer stew and romped with our sled dog friends. Then more work, interrupted only by a snack of cake and whale (that is, a presentation about whales). Tomorrow we’ll sum up our time here, hopefully with an audience of Kangerlussuaqians. We’ve been covering their town in flashy posters, so we expect at least one curious citizen.

    Point 660
    Chloe, Thomas, and Sam on the ice sheet at Point 660

    Phrase of the Day:

    Did you see the musk ox? Så du muskusoksen? Umimmak takuiuk?

    Weather Data taken at point 660 on Russell GlacierA mass of ice that persists for many years and notably deforms and flows under the influence of gravity.:

    Windspeed – 1.7 m/s

    Temperature – 4.9 degrees Celsius

    Relative Humidity – 60%

    Barometric Pressure – 940.32 mBar

    Weather Summary
    Cloudy and cool
    Wind Speed