Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Flying Over Greenland - Icebergs and Glaciers

It was cloudy much of the way, but then I looked out and saw what looked like icebergs.  We left Anchorage at 3:30pm Alaska time and flew north and then east I'm guessing.  So it never got really dark.  And there were icebergs.

You'd think an Anchorage guy wouldn't get that excited about a few icebergs, but we were still at maximum altitude and the landscape was very different from the Alaska/Canada glaciers I'm used to. I suppose this would be a great time to comment on climate change, but never having been over Greenland before, I can't leap to any conclusions from these two pictures.

But the National Snow and Ice Data Center can make claims that I can't.
"Surface melting on Greenland’s Ice Sheet proceeded at a brisk pace, with three spikes in the melt extent in late spring. At this point, the pace rivals but is slightly behind the record surface melt and runoff year of 2012 (record since 1979), although ahead of the three preceding seasons. Melting in 2016 is especially severe in southwestern Greenland, and moving beyond the 1981 to 2010 rate everywhere except the northwestern coast (northern Melville Coast). This has led to the early formation of melt ponds along the southwestern flank of the ice sheet and early run-off from the ice sheet."
Reading the term 'melt pond' took me back to a photo I hadn't planned on putting up where I clearly saw a bright blue pond on one of the glaciers we flew over.  Doesn't look that bright in this picture, but it's the blue mark near the bottom slightly right.

The NSIDC site has images of Greenland showing the days of cumulative ice melt this year.   So, while I can't leap from my pictures of icebergs to comments about climate change, others who study this daily can make such comments.

Here's another glacier with the red moon far in the distance.  I was looking south.   At the time I wasn't at all sure what time it was in Greenland.  It was about 8:15 pm on my watch (Anchorage time) which would make it 4:15 am in Iceland (since it was a 7 hour flight and so we had two hours to go.)  I just checked and there's a two hour difference between Iceland and Greenland, so it was 2:15 am when I took these pictures.

The colors in this picture are very accurate.  The tiny pink moon is in the center of this picture.

It got cloudy again.  Now we're in Reykjavik for the day, our plane to Paris is at 4:20pm.  It's grey, 12˚C, windy, but not raining.


  1. And as you both enter European airspace, welcome! Going to hear an Icelandic ancient music ensemble this Friday at a local cathedral. Good to know you're visiting for a bit.

    J + G

  2. I infer that you're flying Icelandair -- we have gone to Europe that way several times. When you fly from Reykjavik to east coast cities you don't fly over the center of Greenland, just skirt the southern edge. You see a few icebergs but mainly lots of wonderfully craggy black rocks emerging straight up from the sea. I fell in love with them years ago from my airplane-window glimpses, and was thrilled to eventually be able to see them from sea level.

    have a great trip!!

  3. Thanks for your good wishes. Yes, Kathy, Icelandair - only ten air hours from Anchorage to Paris.


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