June 21, 2013

Matt Kennedy, Northern Hemisphere Program Manager, Extreme Ice Survey

My original helicopter charter out of Kangerlussuaq fell through due to a mechanical problem. In a swift change of plans, I’m making my way north to the small and charming town of Ilulissat to take a stab in the dark (or endless light, as it is this time of year) at fitting into a packed schedule of tourist helicopter charters to reach our cameras at the Jakobshavn Glacier.

Ilulissat Icefjord, Greenland. Extreme Ice Survey

Gigantic icebergs resting in the Ilulissat Icefjord, Greenland. Extreme Ice Survey

The commercial flight up to Ilulissat should be advertised as a scenic tour. It’s gorgeous.   Cruising past my airplane window is the striking boundary between freshly glaciated rolling hills and the western edge of the waning Greenland ice sheet. My nose can’t flatten against the tiny airplane window enough. The flight is just under one hour, and barely five minutes before landing, the scenery culminates with a glimpse of the iceberg-choked, 60 km-long Ilulissat Icefjord, the glacier holding the matriarchal position at its head. The scale is mind-blowing, and right as I get lost trying to comprehend the size of the landscape below (some of the bergs are the size of a small town), I think about the importance this place holds, high on the global stage of climate change.

It’s nearing midnight on Thursday, and the sun is blasting through the window of my small B&B bedroom. My flight back to the states is Saturday and I’m eager to see the terminus up close and check on our cameras. Without entering into the costly world of changing flights and booking extra hotel nights, I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed that I make it out to the glacier tomorrow—a gamble at best.

Matt Kennedy, Extreme Ice Survey

Matt Kennedy, Extreme Ice Survey

Matt Kennedy, Northern Hemisphere Program Manager, Extreme Ice Survey

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