Ice Stories
Exploratorium Home

Arriving in Greenland

KANGERLUSSUAQ, GREENLAND– On Monday, our team of Tom Neumann (University of Vermont), Elyse Williamson (Hamilton College), Kristina Sorg (Bowdoin College) and I arrived bright and early at 5:15 am at the Air National Guard Base in Scotia, NY. We were ready to board the C-130 Hercules aircraft that would take us first to Kangerlussuaq (Kanger), Greenland, before we would fly up to the Summit station in the middle of the Greenland ice sheet.

The C-130 Hercules aircraft.

A JATO (jet assisted take-off) rocket in Kanger. The JATO rockets are used to help the C-130 Herc’s get off the ground.

The flight was five and a half hours long, which is actually fairly quick, and we were able to get to Kanger in plenty of time to sort cargo and eat dinner at the airport cafeteria: meatball soup and some sort of meat in some sort of loaf. Greenland is not an easy place for a vegetarian, which poor Elyse happens to be. She will be well fed once we get up to Summit Camp, as there are two excellent cooks who make us all lunch and dinner, always with a vegetarian option.

Elyse in front of our Kanger lodging.

We stayed in the Musk Ox Inn, which is new for me. In the past, I have always stayed at the KISS (Kangerlussuaq International Science Support) building, but on this trip there are so many science groups up in Greenland that there was no room for our group heading up to Summit.

Downtown Kanger.

The two buildings are nearly the same though– both remnants of the old US airbase that the town used to be. My hotel room did have a nice view of the fjord.

The fjord.

In Kanger, we were also happy to meet up with the fifth person on our team, Maria Horhold from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany. Maria and I have worked together on other snow projects in the past, and I’m super excited to get to see her again. Maria is a PhD student well into her thesis work. Last summer, she spent several weeks in Greenland traversing to the new Danish deep drilling site, NEEM (North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling.) It’s always fun to talk snow with her.

Tom will, sadly, only be up at Summit Camp for one week doing radar profiles of different sites we’ve visited around Summit in the last few years. The radar will help us determine what the snow is like in different places around camp.

Tom in the back of the pick-up truck at the airport. The trucks are the transport to and from the airport into town.

This is the second trip up for Elyse, who will be a junior this year at Hamiliton. She is a great help with field work, always in a good mood and willing to work. Even when work means staying up until 2am to finish a drilling project.

Kristina will be a senior at Bowdoin college, up here at Summit for the first time. She is very enthusiastic about the trip, and we are going to do all that we can to convince her that studying snow is the thing to do.

Kristina (left) and Elyse (right) at the airport in NY.

Kanger is one of my favorite places, as it reminds me of my home town when I was young: dirt streets, friendly waves from folks driving by, small town. And of course, best of all, it is the gateway to Summit Camp, which I’m very much looking forward to seeing again.

Typical Kanger transportation.
Tags: , ,

3 Responses »

  1. It is so incredible to see you and your fascinating work, Zoe!! I hope your time in Greenland is as
    amazing as you are! Much love to you, sister! Come back home safe to us…Hugs

  2. Zoe–I am Kristina’s aunt and it was so exciting to see a picture of her. Your research sounds amazing and I know Kristina will love every minute of working on it with you. Stay warm. We know about cold weather living in the UP of Michigan!

    Safe travels,

    Kristina’s Aunt Viv