As the ship sailed into Kangerlussuaq, Greenland last night, the last stage of our Arctic voyage has come to an end. While endings always bring feelings of hesitation and sadness, they also bring hope. As we pack our bags and prepare to leave our floating home, it doesn’t quite feel real to be leaving the Arctic. What we can be sure of though, is that we are leaving this place feeling full. Full of knowledge, full of questions, and full of memories. We have new friends by our sides, new passions in our hearts, and new skills in our back pockets. Although this expedition is over, another expedition has just begun, one that we all embark upon individually. When go back our home communities, whether it be here in the Arctic, thousands of miles across the ocean, or in Southern Canada, we must all decide what to do with what we have learned these past two weeks. And this is perhaps the most daunting expedition of all.
But it wasn’t all sad times today! Before catching our charter flight back to Ottawa, we disembarked the ship and headed to the Greenland ice cap. Although we didn’t make it to the Ice Cap itself due to time constraints, (flights need to be caught!) we did learn a lot about it! At nearly 2,400 km long and 1,100 km wide, the Ice Cap is the second largest body of ice in the world, after the Antarctic Ice Sheet! The ice sheet contains layers of compressed snow from more than 100,000 years old and provides a valuable measure of past climates. Kangerlussuaq is home to the only road to reach the ice cap, which covers about 80% if all of Greenland. Although vast and stunning, the edges of the 1.7-million-km2 Ice Cap regularly melt in summer months. But in 2016, the melting started early, and by April, 12% of the Ice Cap was melting.
It was then time for the expedition to begin the long journey home, flying from Kangerlussuaq to Iqaluit (where we dropped off some of our Iqaluit-based friends!) and finally back to Ottawa.
We have arrived, exhausted in the best possible way, back at the University of Ottawa residence. Tomorrow morning is the Welcome Home celebrations at the Canadian Museum of Nature!
Photos from today and student blogs to come soon!