Nares Strait 2012: Charting New Waters in Petermann Fjord

By Andreas Muenchow, off Joe Island, Greenland, Aug.-11, 2012

We just left Petermann Fjord, squeezing by a Manhattan-sized ice island blocking much of its entrance. An armada of 100s of ship-sized tabular icebergs were all jockeying for positions behind the big one. Captain Wayne Duffett of the Canadian Coast Guard commanded the CCGS Henry Larsen into the new waters of Petermann Fjord, Greenland, with skill, experience, and a calculated dose of daring, trusting both his instincts and his crew. These new waters were formed when Petermann Glacier lost as much as 1/3 of its floating ice shelf during massive break-off events in 2010 and again in 2012. The Henry Larsen was the first and only ship for years to sail and survey this mare incognita for the last 22 hours. It was a long day.

I slept only one of the last 24 hours, skipped dinner, and will head for breakfast in 10 minutes. Being excited and working hard with 24 hours of daylight is exhausting, draining, but also immensely satisfying. We completed a spatial bathymetric survey, collected water and water properties along the new seaward face of the glacier from the surface to 1200 meter depth, and did the same for a section along the axis of the fjord that used to be covered by an ice-shelf.

I tried to document and capture the changing icy seas and their interactions with both land and ocean by taking plenty of photos and video, to later share with those who cannot be here. Several pods of narwhales — they really do have 3-ft long tusks (a tooth really) — were feeding on ocean fronts within a mile of Petermann Glacier’s new face…

Breakfast is ready; I am sending this off as is, without much editing (too tired) {Editor’s note:  Good thing there are those less distracted by the excitement of new icy worlds to do some proofreading…}, then some sleep while those who sleep will install a new weather station on Joe Island.  Science aboard a ship like the CCGS Henry Larsen never really stops…

3 responses to “Nares Strait 2012: Charting New Waters in Petermann Fjord

  1. Congratulations to yourself, the scientists and the officers and crew of the Henry Larsen.

    It is a huge privilege to be able to read what amounts to your diary as you are actually experiencing this adventure.

    Stay Safe

    • It is a huge privilege to be entrusted with the resources to go and get the data, imagery, and new experiences. Ultimately, it is the Canadian, British, and U.S. American tax payers who are footing the substantial bills. This is one of many reasons, that I feel passionate about sharing this with these publics. The more people with access to data, knowledge, skills, and education to gather and analyze scientific data and information, the better for us all 😉

  2. Awesome, Andreas. I’m jealous. Take me with you next time. I can tell jokes while you do science. 😉

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