Today’s rerouting to Kangerlussuaq, Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) allowed us to spend the day on the Greenland Ice Sheet. As the second largest ice body in the world (second only to Antartica) it was a great chance to stretch our legs before our long flights, while learning about an environment that plays an important role in global climate.
There were many elements of the experience that made an impression. The first was the sheer scale of the landscape. As one student described, “You see it in the distance, and you just keep driving and driving and it doesn’t seem to get any closer because it’s so big. And then when you’re there it seems to go on forever…undulating waves of ice off into the distance.”
Students enjoyed dipping their water bottles into the cold streams that weave their way through the shallow valleys of ice. We also time spent spotting wildlife including reindeer and examining the texture and colour of the environment. Hikers were surprised to learn that the ice is tinged black from ash that comes from forest fires in Canada. The ash travels by air, eventually settling on glaciers in Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland), reducing the albedo and increasing the melting rate of the glacier/ice cap.
Following the ice cap tour, students and staff returned to the ship for a final dinner together and to soak up their final hours onboard the MS Ocean Endeavour, our ship, our floating classroom, and our home for the past 2 weeks.
Then it was time for bed and a bit of sleep before our early morning departures.