Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Ilulissat Means Icebergs

Today was all about icebergs. All sizes. Small ones, big ones, really big ones. All shapes. Like snow flakes. Every one a different shape. Hm. Curious. They once were snow flakes. Billions and billions of snowflakes over centuries piling up deeper and deeper getting heavier and heavier. Compressing. Turning snow into ice. And then the ice, still getting deeper, spills over the gigantic basin it sits in and slowly, inexhorably makes it’s way down to the sea. The glacier seeks the path of least resistance carving out huge valleys and fjords and dumping the debris en route and into the ocean. And as ice meets sea, the ice begins to break up creating icebergs. The icebergs we saw today came from Sermeq Kujaleq glacier. The most productive glacier in the northern hemisphere. The size of the area that feeds this one glacier is 110,000 ㎢. All of that ice flows down into Kangia Fjord at a rate of 19 metres/day. It then takes 12 to 15 months for the ice to make its way to the mouth of the fjord and into Disko Bay where the bigger bergs get hung up on an undersea moraine embankment. The sight of that huge sea of ice is really impressive.

We started off the morning with all excursions going hither thither and yon. Boat load after boat load of people saw the mouth of Kangia from the sea. Others hiked through town and out to the fjord. Helicopters flitted back and forth from the terminus of the glacier. Many people combined excursions and saw the ice from land and sea and a few people managed all three views.

The weather cooperated completely. We had sunny skies all day long. And believe me, it’s a long day when it’s July north of the Arctic Circle.

The last excursion returned to the ship at approximately 20:00 and shortly after that we lifted the anchor. It’s 23:05 and the sun is still shining brightly as we make our way towards Sisimiut.