Fish Out of Water. What’s a Marine Biologist Doing on the Ice Sheet?

July 11, 2016

Spent the morning doing interviews with the Black and Bloom team, a multi-year effort out of the UK to quantify effects of Black carbon (black) and Algae blooms (bloom. get it?) on Greenland ice sheet albedo.

Chris Williamson, interviewed here, is the algae guy, – with a background in Marine biology – not something you would normally expect to find on the ice sheet.  But his expertise in tracing impacts of climate changes on algae species lends itself to this task.

I’ll be breaking out smaller pieces of the discussions over coming days and weeks. Tomorrow, the team puts in on the ice, and they have enough gear that it will take two flights to get it all in.  I’ll fly in with the first team, shoot some footage, and (knock on wood) fly out with the second flight.

Black and Bloom:

Jim and Joe have been in touch a few times to let me know of progress in Kangerlussuaq. All is going well, I’m happy to report. They’ve been in touch with the helicopter pilots and confirmed the loading and flight times, Monday afternoon and first thing Tuesday morning. We’ve arranged radio contact channels with the helicopter and reconfirmed emergency call out numbers. Several folk have been very helpful to us. First, getting gas regulators for the cookers – thank you Jason Box. Peter Sinclair has kindly provided us with flares in the very unlikely event that we get a visit from a polar bear. We’ve also picked up rifles from Miki Nielsen. Thanks folks all.

Next things the team will be doing is to go through a mental check list of all the things you need for living and working on ice. It’s getting close to being the last time to treble check that you’ve packed all the little things that enable you to do your job and then to relax properly afterwards. The next helicopter will be in two weeks time, and so forgetting, say, your multi-tool knife or the ears phones for your music can be thoroughly frustrating while you wait for them to come next flight. It will also be the last time to get your tea bags and chocolate. Little things like these take on a disproportionate value when you’re trying to unwind after a hard day’s work in the cold.

For the last few days, the group has been packing and loading gear at a warehouse next to the Air Greenland hangar.  One key activity, practice putting up the lab tent – something they won’t want to be guessing about once they are on the ice. See Below.

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3 Responses to “Fish Out of Water. What’s a Marine Biologist Doing on the Ice Sheet?”

  1. mtpccl Says:

    I hope they’ve packed sleep masks. I understand it can be even harder to get to sleep in the golden glow of the midnight sun illuminating an orange tent.

  2. mtpccl Says:

    I hope they’ve packed sleep masks. I understand it can be even harder to get to sleep in the golden glow of the midnight sun illuminating an orange tent. Wishing everyone well!


  3. […] more, check out the interview with team member Chris Williamson the other […]


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