Sunday 3 June 2012

Heading westwards with the Gulfstream!

Last evening we left Iceland and we started our trip to Greenland, the last highlight of our Viking tour. We were not alone on the ocean; we were always accompanied by huge swarms of Northern Fulmars, gulls or Arctic Terns.

Photo: Passenger  Petra Schmucki

Photo: Passenger Petra Schmucki
The seabirds follow us in the air, behind or next to the ship, but there is anything else, that is with us. Not in the air, it’s in the water. I am not thinking about the whales we saw in the distance; I mean the water we are sailing in - the Gulfstream that turns left at the west coast of Iceland and flows slowly in the direction of Greenland´s south east coast. And we aboard MV FRAM are doing the same.

Between Iceland and Greenland´s south east coast you can find a submarine ridge that forces the Gulfstream to change its direction and turn to west. The Gulfstream is the warm water current that brings water out of the Gulf of Mexico into the North. Our European climate would change a lot without this very special current. Temperatures would be more or less like the temperatures in Siberia and nobody in Europe wants this, but of course nobody knows what we can expect in the future.

Now we left Europe behind, but the Gulf Stream is still with us and it will stay with us for the rest of our cruise. Only the name will change. At the south west coast of Greenland the Gulfstream encounters the North East Greenland Stream that brings very cold and icy water out of the Polar Sea. Both streams turn around Cape Farewell, Greenland´s southernmost tip, and flow together as the Irminger Stream along Greenland´s west coast northward. Here is the warm Irminger Stream a real boon for the people. The stream makes the climate milder, the landscape so much greener, and of course it has a big influence on the marine wildlife too.

Tomorrow we have another sea day. But latest in the evening we will see hopefully our first ice. Let´s see what kind of ice we will see first. Will it be sea-ice or glacier-ice? Tomorrow we will know the answer. But whatever the answer will be, we are looking forward to ice, doesn´t matter what kind of ice will be the first.