Posts from Saturday 4 Oct

Every time I sit down to write, something unmissable happens

First of all I’m sorry, yet again, for taking so long to write. Time is running away and I’ve been busy taking everything in! Every time I sit down to write, something unmissable happens! Now the Argo is launched and we’re heading south I have a little time so I’ll start where I left off last time. Little did I know back then that later in the evening Carol and I would be on stage with Kate, Luke, and the Disko Bay Blues Band! We pulled up to Ilulissat in the dark, having watched David’s projections onto icebergs. Karen led us to Murphy’s bar, which she’d had opened especially for us and organized a local band to play. Jarvis kicked off his Disko Bay disco with some classic vinyl before the blues band played. Later they were joined by Robyn and his harmonica, Kate and her icebergs (us- Art/Science interaction at its best!) and many fantastic acts that followed.
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Expedition route

KT Tunstall and Emily Venables follow our route on the map
KT Tunstall and Emily Venables follow our route on the map as we return South towards Kangerlussuaq.

Cabin gigs

Suzan-Lori Parks playing guitar while on a climate change expedition to the Arctic
In our cabin/studio/temporary home onboard the Grigory Mikheev as we head south for Kangerlussuaq. Photo: Nathan Gallagher


Tracey Rowledge, an artist interested in how Greenland has been affected by climate change
Tracey Rowledge drawing and experimenting in her improvised cabin/studio.

Ryuichi Sakamoto

Ryuichi Sakamoto's last look at Greenland as the climate change expedition draws to a close
Ryuichi Sakamoto photographed on the bridge of the Grigory Mikheev as we sail towards Kangerlussuaq, along the West coast of Greenland. Photo: Nathan Gallagher

Arctic land grabs – from King Arthur to Putin

The Argo buoy is launched – might seem banal to scientists, but it really helps the rest of us to visualise science as a practice rather than a set of reported results. Think the winning entry for naming it was ‘Disko(very) Bob’, crafted by Jarvis Cocker.

Climate change is just one of the reasons why there is more oceanography and geology going on in the region. Sovereign states in the region are investing a good deal in trying to establish the best evidence to support resource claims. There has been a flurry of news stories over the last year or so about a scramble for Arctic resources by the countries of the region. The planting of a Russian flag by a mini-sub on the seabed at the North Pole was interpreted in reports around the world as a form of land grab. In practical terms it was meaningless and there are due legal processes for working out sovereign rights over the seabed. The reporting was a little shrill (that was the point for Putin I guess, above all domestically). But there will be jockeying for position for the mineral resources that will become more easily accessible as higher temperatures melt the sea ice.
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Teresa Elwes looks at the retreating glaciers from a port hole
Teresa Elwes on the lookout for whales as we sail back towards Kangerlussuaq along the West coast of Greenland.

Disko-very Bob the ARGO float

Simon Boxall and Emily Venables launch the ARGO float

BBC's Quentin Cooper at the launch the ARGO float

“Disko-very Bob” has made it into the West Greenland Current with everything running smoothly – at last! The water column sampling didn’t start well last week (hence lack of my blog) with the failure of the CTD, designed to measure profiles of temperature and salinity to 200m. However what we did see in a test run was that the waters in this part of the ocean show strong inputs of fresh water from the melting glaciers that border the coast.
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Introducing Disko-very Bob

Emily Venables introduces Disko-very Bob, launched this morning from the boat and now the UK’s most northerly ARGO float. Over the next few years this remote unit will measure ocean temperature and salinity as it follows the West Greenland current, beaming back information every 5 days by satellite.

Launching the ARGO float

Launching the ARGO float
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The GreenLand’s Prayer*

Give us this day our daily seal
And forgive us our footprints
As we forgive those who tread against us
And lead us not into pollution
But deliver us from petrol
For ours is the past, the present and the future
For ever and ever

*One of our Greenlandic guides Ludvig informed us that when the Europeans brought Christianity to Greenland they quickly realised that the idea of ‘daily bread’ meant nothing to them, as the Inuit people’s diet was entirely meat and fish. Therefore they translated the Lord’s Prayer as ‘Give us this day our daily seal’. The remainder of the prayer is also written for our times.

An Arctic Poem (still in progress) by Mojisola Adebayo

Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson onboard an expedition studying the effects of global warming