Friday, 6 September 2013

Hello - Luci here!

Yesterday I just got back from my Arctic Tech - Hydrology and Climate change field trip, just thought i would fill you in as to what i have been up too....

So the group headed out on Monday the 2nd first we had a bit of a safety briefing about how we were getting there and protocol when there - i.e take a gun everywhere because essentially unlike Longyearbyen it is bear land! We were heading to Kapp Linne to the old Isfjord radio station, figure 1 (now 'done up' base camp - very smart and comfy).
Figure 1 - Map of area with Isford radio station noted. (Norwegian Polar institute, 2013)

We took 2 boats down for the group, in out delightful prison wear, figure 2, and the trip took nearly two hours from Longyearbyen which wasn't to bad as the sea was very calm even though fairly cloudy and misty, Figure 3. On the way down we saw loads of Puffins and other sea birds, no whales yet though :(

Figure 2 - The team in prison wear survival suits.
Figure 3 - Misty sea birds.

On the monday we got there we got briefed on our groups and what each group would be doing the next day - I got put in one of the two glacier groups (WHOOOO) who where going all the way to the Linne Glacier. My group were to note its GPS locations on its front, make photographs for record (to be compiled with previous made). The other group were measuring set stakes on the glacier to see the melt and position change (which we ended up helping a little bit any way)

For the rest of the day we went for a little hike from the radio station and tested some of our equipment - a current meter - not at all like the ADCPs previously used in the marine environment but a hand held device with a blade which would rotate and the number of rotations per minute could be used to calculate the current of a river! another thing we were looking for was the discharge which was done by using a mass of salt upstream and measuring down stream how long it takes to register the change in conductivity and how long it takes to revert back to its original stable level. - these were to be used in the other groups taking measurements in the lakes and streams (which Ribanna has more on)

After this we familiarised ourselves with the GPS systems, and radios we were using during the next day and then got spoiled with a really good risotto and fish - the food was amazing compared to the tubed food we have been eating in Longyearbyen - and a cheeky glass of wine too!!!
Figure 4 - Yummy Breakfast

The next day (03/09/2013) we were up early and had breakfast, fig 4, at 0730 (again really really yummy) and made our pack lunch for the day. 
As a group we all walked to a 'base camp', a little cabin in the middle of the valley, from where we could all head to our individual locations. The route to base camp was approx 10km and was relatively flat, unlike the hiking around Longyearbyen, minor a few moraines. At the base camp we stopped for a quick refuel and hot drink, figure 5.
Figure 5 - Group snacking at the cabin
From there we began to split up and i and the two Glacier groups, figure 6, along with Jessica (who worked within UNIS logistics) and Iben (a lady who also works in UNIS but in the Ed department) set off with the glacier in our sights... but still a fair distance, figure 7.
Figure 6 - The Glacier team

Figure 7 - Linnebreen Glacier.

Once at the glacier, which was quite a hike in itself - as the moraine rubble was difficult for footing we set to work. My team - Ragnahild (rags) and ΓΈla - both Norwegians located the area where previous photos had been captured and ourselves made one, fig 8, and noted the GPS coordinates and then moved to the glacier front and noted its GPS coordinates.
Figure 8 - Glacier record photo.
Fig 9 - Climbing up Linnebreen
Figure 10 - Stake measurements
 The Glacier itself was pretty amazing, and some of the rock formations were incredible!! the varied composition stripes could bee seen miles away and up close it was even more spectacular! Once we had finished our tasks we put on our crampons (getting a very wet butt as i stupidly left my water proofs in my bag and then it was too late) and made our way to the other group to help with the stakes, fig 9-12. In total we probably spent around 2 hours just working on the glacier and it was FANTASTIC!!
Figure 11 - not a bad view down the glacier either
Figure 12 - more steak measurements

On the way back we decided rather than return via the same route we could do a round robin of roughly the same (ish) distance and perhaps see some Walruses on the coast! By the time we were off the glacier and its moraine it was probably about 1700 ... we still had around 20km to go... IT WAS A LONG DAY!!!

In total we did 39.8km (24.7 miles) and were out until 2230 with 13.5 hours out in the field (a lot of which was hiking)... it was an amazing day but the last 6-8km was a tad on the painful side - my heels were pretty blistered due to my boots, whilst not new not broken in for that longer day just yet!! The last part was also pretty flat and boggy - and then we could see the radio station and would power walk for another 45 minutes ... and it would still be no closer!!! every one was a tad tired and not even bothered about even looking for the Walruses,  figure 13, at this point it started raining :(
Figure 13 -  The rare short rest stops (everyone began to cease up) you just sat where you were standing
It was a changeling but amazing day but we made it back for a really good, delayed, meal of yummy rare cooked beef - and then straight to bed with throbbing feet!

The next day Breakfast was at 0800 and we planned to go a try and find the Walruses then after some people would try and go to another of the closer Glaciers. The walk to the walruses was supposed to be around 16km as a round route - ok on a normal day ... not so great with large blisters and saw muscles already BUT who is going to pass that opportunity up!!! So on went my big girls pants and i tried to patch my ankles enough (which is either going to help or shift and hurt like hell) but i was going!!!

The walk there was slow but ok, i tied my boots pretty tight to reduce shifting and it was on the coast so pretty flat (a god send)!
IT WAS SOOOO WORTH IT - we were able to get within 3 or 4 meters of these animals and they are HUGE but soo impressive! Thus i will now bombard you with a lot (more) of photos:
Figure 14 - Ribanna trying really hard to stare directly into the sun to get an good picture!!!

Figure 15 - the 2 humongous beasts just chilling!

Figure 16 - Sir one tusk posing graciously for us!!

Figure 17 - Playing in the sea!

Figure 18 - Curious of us and bravely checking the group out!

The way home was horrible but i carried the rifle so could walk or hobble pretty slow - my feet cramped cos my boots were so tight but i couldn't loosen them as the rubbing was bad- i made it myself and Jessica's feet both in a pretty sore state but the rainbow and sight of an arctic fox at the end helped distract us, but i didn't want to put those boots on in a while!
Again we have some very tasty food and desert and all chilled out at the radio station for a while with some people playing guitar others reading and just enjoying life on the whole! We had a bit of a lecture that evening going through some calculations, information and preparing for our departure on the thursday!

Thursday's weather sucked as we got on the boats to leave the comfort of the warm station with amazing food... the wind was up a bit and it was raining as we put our prison suits back on! All the way back we were pretty heavily hammered by cold arctic sea spray (in the face) it sounds horrible but was actually quite fun!! i attempted a cup of hot tea most of which my survival suit took but it was entertaining!! Only at one point did the spray feel like fast flying hail not so fun) but on the whole it was a entertaining end to our trip!!!

We arrived back at UNIS travel worn and tired at 1230 on Thursday with 4 of us from the technology group to start our Arctic Marine Geology course at 1315 that afternoon - so after washing all the gear and getting a quick cuppa we continued lectures until 1700. We go the low down on our course and had our first guest lecture from Cambridge university - Julian Dowdeswell who is brilliant and has evidently been everywhere and has a lot of knowledge! Even when knackered it was really interesting - we were also set our first task of reading one of his given paper (most of which he is an author)s in pairs and preparing a presentation together to summaries the paper for Saturday (yes we have lectures on Saturday!!!!) plus we have had lectures from 0915 this morning until around 1600 and then spent the afternoon reading and putting together this paper summary!!! So its now just gone midnight on friday night and most of the evening i have been making a power point and reading the paper on 'Assemblages of submarine landforms produced by tidewater glaciers' all of which is actually really interesting - but i am looking forward to a lovely sleep day on Sunday!!!

For now that's all i have got, apologies if there is sloppy spelling - I am a tad sleepy! Hoping all is well at SAMS and the new students are settling in (maybe a tad early yet??). I think you will hear from Ribannas perspective shortly (with less sore feet) and also Allan and Esty will fill you in in what they have been up to too!!

Luci xxx

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