August 25, 2013 - Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

    Our last day in the Arctic brought us to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. I have tried for a while now to pronounce the name correctly, but am far from perfect. Phonetically it is spelled as: gang-er-loose-sue-arc. You can click on that link to hear the pronunciation.

    Day 15
    Map of Day 15, Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

    I was excited to visit Kangerlussuaq, since my daughter Jeannie, spent a month in Greenland with the Joint Science Education Program (JSEP) in the summer of 2011. You can read her PolarTREC journals and blogs about this experience. After traveling 3,062 nautical miles, we left the National Geographic Explorer for the last time in the fjord, and boarded buses and tundra buggies to tour the area.

    tundra buggy
    Our tundra buggy for tour

    Russell GlacierA mass of ice that persists for many years and notably deforms and flows under the influence of gravity.

    Once everyone had a seat in a vehicle, we proceeded on our 5-hour tour of the area. Jeannie had commented after her work in the Kangerlussuaq area, about the adventure of traversing the "roads" in the area. She said that the bumping around and jolting you get on the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland was nothing compared to traveling around Kangerlussuaq. I was happy to be in a tundra buggy rather than the school bus some guests were riding in.

    Meltwater from Russell Glacier

    Autumn colors
    Autumn colors on the tundra

    We were treated to musk oxen on the hillside opposite the Russell GlacierA mass of ice that persists for many years and notably deforms and flows under the influence of gravity.. In late August, the tundra was beginning to take on autumn colors. Our day was rainy, windy and cold, but it was great to get out and explore at the various stops on our tour.

    Musk Oxen
    Musk oxen in Kangerlussuaq

    Russell Glacier
    Me and Crystale Thiele in front of Russell Glacier

    Russell Glacier
    Russell Glacier covered in silt

    Greenland Ice Sheet

    We eventually reached the end of the road that led us the Greenland Ice Sheet. It was amazing to venture out on this enormous expanse of ice. I wish that I had not packed away my warm boots and neck gaiter, but the cold was not going to deter me from this opportunity.

    Ice edge
    Edge of Greenland Ice sheet

    Educators on the Ice Sheet
    3 educators on the Greenland ice sheet: Me, Crystal Thiele, and Christina Riska

    Here are some facts about the Greenland Ice Sheet:

    • The Greenland Ice Sheet is called Sermersuaq in Greenlandic.

    • The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets combined contain more than 99% of the world's freshwater ice.

    • The Greenland Ice Sheet covers 656,000 square miles (1.7 million square kilometers). This is 3 times the size of Texas, or 14 times the size of England.

    • If the Greenland Ice Sheet melted, sea level rises are estimated at 6 meters (20 feet).

    • Scientists study the Greenland Ice Sheet in a variety of areas; including quantifying the melt rate, and analyzing the history through ice cores.

    Greenland science camps
    Map of Greenland showing science stations and routes across the ice sheet. Retrieved from -

    Greenland Ice sheet melt
    Cumulative surface melt days for July 21 to August 19, 2013 (30 days). This period spans the peak melt extents seen this year. Retrieved from-

    frozen silt and soot
    Silt and soot refrozen in melt pond on Greenland Ice Sheet. The darker colors reduce the albedo leading to more melting.

    It was sad to finish our Arctic expedition, but touring the Greenland Ice Sheet and Kangerlussuaq was a great ending.

    Jumping for joy
    Jumping for joy on Greenland Ice sheet

    Weather Summary
    Rainy, windy