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Expeditions

Following the Ice 8: Epic Melting

Andrew Tedston doing his last dye injection of the season.

A few days ago, my advisor called my satellite phone to let me know that in early July, something like 98 percent of the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet was melting at once, or, as the media put it, “The entire Greenland Ice Sheet melted.” Although the Greenland Ice Sheet is still there, this [...]

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Expeditions

Following the Ice: Camp Life—Not For the Faint of Heart

Cat Lee (lower right) sampling the river at high discharge.

The river coming out from beneath “our” glacier is running somewhere around 800 cubic meters per second, over twice what anyone’s measured in previous seasons. During the entire 2011 melt season, our glacier’s catchment area lost about 1 cubic mile of ice. Looking at our meltwater discharge measurements and doing some simple calculus, we’re guessing [...]

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Expeditions

Following the Ice: Is this global warming? (continued)

A musk ox trying to look like a lion. This guy and his friend stared us down for a good ten minutes—before running away.

NOTE: Just after finishing this and while brushing my teeth outside my tent, I almost ran into a couple of musk ox—or rather, they almost ran into me. I was watching another musk ox grazing across the river half a mile away when I heard something, looked down and saw two more walking towards me. [...]

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Expeditions

Following the Ice: Is this Global Warming?

Ben Linhoff sampling the stream formed by glacial melt early in the season.

From the mess tent, we can hear huge boulders crashing through rapids half a kilometer away. The boulders sometimes sound like approaching footsteps, and as we’re all just a tiny bit nervous about an unlikely polar bear visit, conversations trail off and we listen. In the four years our camp has existed on this glacial [...]

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Expeditions

Ice Day: Like a nice day, but not

The view from camp at midnight.

“Camp is like the seven plagues of Moses. We get here in May and there’s cold and snow, which turns to rain and wind by the end of the month, in June clouds of blood sucking mosquitoes come out, and in July the wind and dust comes back.” Jon Hawking It had been a very [...]

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Expeditions

Following the Ice: Glacial Dam

An early-season river crossing.

I knew something was wrong. I pulled my blindfold off, unzipped my sleeping bag and stared at the ceiling of my tent. The midnight sun had swung around to the north and the wind was up. After three weeks of freezing rain, snow, and cold weather, the night was strangely warm and the low sun [...]

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Expeditions

Following the Ice: In the Beginning

The river crossing in May last year before the annual melt made it unpassable.

Over the past few months I lost sleep almost every night thinking about Greenland. Polar bears and river crossings were always at the edge of my mind while lying in bed in Massachusetts. These thoughts sometimes kept me up till dawn. But the first night in my tent, I fell asleep instantly and slept well. [...]

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Expeditions

Following the Ice: Greenland

The moon rising over Leverett Glacier.)

One night last summer, I rose from my bed, left my tent and walked to the river. It was well past midnight, a full moon had risen over the glacier and in the twilight of the Arctic summer night, I could make out a herd of musk ox grazing nearby. My hair had gotten long, [...]

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