By: Matt Rutherford On: July 3, 2016 In: Education Comments: 5

Exploratory research is a labor of love. If you had a choice to further science by developing the methods for an emerging study that directly monitors the influence of climate change, would you? We make it happen, aside of our limited time and resources before our big sea floor mapping project way up North we made a side trip. We are monitoring a few glaciers in NE Disko Bay’s glacial fjords, glaciers which represent the 100’s of high rate melting glaciers draining the Greenland Ice Cap. The observations made from the calving monitoring stations over the Arctic summer season will help scientists determine if they can assess glacier behavior using pressure sensors like RBR’s Solo. Upon recovery of these instruments at the end of the field season we will find out if our field methods effectively captured calving activity in the form of surface waves recorded as changes in pressure along the series of calving monitoring stations.

Typically, calving activity has been studied by looking at seismometer readings and reviewing satellite imagery. The noise the glacier makes when it calves sounds like thunder and echoes for miles. These sensors will allow scientists to assess a glacier at a greater distance and with less complex setups.

In order to deploy these sensors our team explored much of an island shaped like an arrowhead where the NE and SE locations were in direct line of sight of two massive glaciers. Satellite imagery and reconnaissance flight footage from our aerial drone made it clear that sailing the Eastern edge of the island was a no go. I wished I had topographic GIS files at hand to better assess elevations for planning a direct route trekking across the terrain. We made the call to hike to the deployment locations after getting a better view from the top of the ridgeline. The hike was epic, I felt as if I was hiking on another planet. Take a look at our latest Video Blog to see for yourself. It comes out in a week.

Our next scientific objective, is to assess central Baffin Bay, for the accumulation of marine debris pollution which is less influenced by circulating boundary currents. We will be primarily looking at micro-plastic presence, the width of your finger nail or smaller, and a toxic pervasive force reaching the world’s most distant and once pristine places.

Nicole Trenholm

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