2004 Expedition Blog - Day 5

Date:

Tuesday, 14 September 2004, 20:02 (CF2 time)

From:

Max Eastley

Expedition:

2004 Expedition

Subject:
The Kongsvegen Glacier at Kongsfjorden
Attachments: 1 image

The blue towers of ice of Kongsvegen Glacier rise up into blue sky Glaciers are formed by layer upon layer of snow. In this process air is trapped and compressed into bubbles which can be seen in the endless variety of shapes floating in the sea. As the ice is eroded by the sea the wall of ice between these bubbles and the air or water is made thinner and thinner until the vast pressure which created the chambers of air is released, this air can be analysed and a picture of the earths atmosphere thousands of years ago formed. When you are near these remnants of the glacier that float in the water near the shore you can hear the release of the air in a short burst of sharp sound. On the twelfth of September we sailed to the glacier and I lowered a hydrophone into the water. The sound was a bewildering mass of millions of these sounds like a vast waterfall. On the surface sounds like gunshots echoed from the glacier. At one point in our three hour visit an estimated forty thousand tonne piece of ice fell into the sea with a deep, cavernous, terrifying roar like a great beast. I felt that all these sounds were latent in the ice for thousand of years, bursting into the air or our time, coming to us from a vast distance.

Max Eastley

Date:

Tuesday, 14 September 2004, 20:02 (CF2 time)

From:

David Buckland

Expedition:

2004 Expedition

Subject:
Daily blog post, Tuesday 14 September 2004
Attachments: 1 image

Current etched plaster block Last night we were guests of the German research station (Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Ny-Ålesund) to view the firing of their research laser - a 7cm beam of green light which reaches 40km into the just night sky.

We had to wait until 3am Noorderlicht time for the darkest part of the night, but the laser light was truly awesome and thanks to Konstanze Piel and colleagues at the German station - www.awi.de

8am breakfast and we headed for the Kongsvegen Breen (glacier) where Alex Harley climbed the glacier front, part of his named place series. This was his first Ice Climb which was challenged by the dense nature of the ice. The climb was beautifully done, and filmed, only cramped by a fall half way up the face - ropes, anchor man Sean, and tenacity by Alex prevent any damage to the climb and self.

Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey's current etched plaster block.

Heather and Dan found their plaster block which had been moored to buoys and released two days previously - it was a miracle that we found it wandering in this large ice strewn fjord. Current etching had sculpted the plaster and Dan was delighted to retrieve his and Heathers errant form.

The science and film work continues with Simon and Sarah endlessly monitoring the ocean depths to understand the complex rhythms of glacier and salt waters. The speed of loss of glacier ice is quite shocking - we have filmed over 40,000 tons of ice crashing into the fiord (Simon worked out the weight based on size estimate - one cubic metre of ice = roughly one ton). All the glaciers here are in retreat and ice 'high tide' marks are to be found high up on the mountain slopes. At the head of the fiord are the three Kings crowns (all queens!) called Svea, Nora and Dana, where wind and rain has sculpted pyramids which 'crown' glacier sculpted bodies. Totally beautiful.

The science stations of Norway and Germany here in Ny-Ålesund have given us both time and knowledge and have helped us in the construction of our education module, the main focus being to look and understand how climate change is affecting this beautiful wilderness.

Tonight Simon and Sarah lay a XPT transect from the Fiord reaching out into the Norwegian current (Gulf Stream). This instruments were provide by the Royal Navy and will give us a clear indication as the to temperature fluctuations down to a kilometre in depth. We will report tomorrow on the initial findings from this survey - another long night!

David Buckland

2004 expedition route map