Author Archives: Emily Venables

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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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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Emily Venables mid-snowfight at the Uummannaq Children's Home
Emily Venables mid-snowfight at the Uummannaq Children’s Home.

Navigating icebergs

Travelling past an iceberg that is melting from rising sea temperatures
Arriving in Uummannaq early in the morning, navigating icebergs in a zodiac covered in snow.

Looking Up!

Good news this morning – A new software CD is on its way to us with the latecomers of the group! Once the artists had ventured ashore, we had a couple of hours of ship time to go and test out some solutions for the seafloor sampling. The fantastic news is that it worked! I’m sure you’ll hear all about it from Carol and Dave soon enough. Aside from the science bit, we’re on the edge of a massive iceberg field. These things are huge, I’ve never seen anything like it, and they’re pouring out of the fastest retreating glacier in Greenland at a rate of knots. The scenery is breathtaking and I’m off out to see some more of it before we start another survey line. Hope all’s well back home! :o)
Read more about the previous days…

Technical Hitches

For the science team, Sunday was a day that we’d rather forget, so I’ll keep it quick. Whilst the rest of the group went ashore to visit a Greenlandic settlement and even see an iceberg tip over, we were sat in a container full of dysfunctional kit! The geophysics side managed to get all theirs working, only to find that the ship was too noisy to hear the sea bed returns and the Oceanography side failed to get the software to read the data from the CTD. It wasn’t all that bad though, plenty of hope, and a Marcus who can always be relied upon to cheer us up! Have a look at the previous days…

Science plans

Emily Venables science presentation

After breakfast, Simon, Carol and I presented the science background to the voyagers, told them about what we did last year and our plans for this year. Later we heard from Joe, Sunand and Francesca about energy efficiency and reducing the carbon footprint of buildings. This kicked off plenty of discussions and was a really useful exchange information for us all. Ko and Ludvig joined us in the afternoon, and as they did we tried a CTD dip, only to discover that having installed new and supposedly better software, it wasn’t working any more… Soon after that, it materialised that all wasn’t going to plan for Dave and Carol either.

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Arrival and unpacking

Preparation, preparation

Hello all, sorry for being quiet since our arrival in Greenland, but we’ve been working hard on trying to extract data from our CTD. Even after many hours sitting in a container battling with a computer we’ve not yet managed to get any data out of it. Rewinding slightly…

It was fantastic to see the old faces of last year’s Noorderlight trip at the airport on Thursday evening and to meet the rest of the crowd on the expedition. The Iceland flight was delayed somewhat, but with all the excitement we didn’t really notice! On Friday we were delivered to Greenland in style with our very own charter of a Fokker 50 aeroplane, delivered to the port in less style on an ancient bus, and ferried to the ship in zodiac inflatables, finally arriving at 4pm GMT, 5pm British summer time, 4pm Iceland time and 2pm Greenland time. There was so much confusion over what time we were working on that each room on board ended up being in a different time zone! The ship is great and so is its crew. To us scientists it’s much more like we’re used to in our research, just without the winches!! That afternoon/evening we were welcomed aboard, had our safety briefings and set about unpacking as we steamed out of the fjord.

Last chance to write on dry land – Part 2

ARGO float launch

We still don’t know if we can expect anything else to be in our container than toothbrushes but we hope to find our ARGO float somewhere in there.

Let me tell you a little more about these fantastic pieces of kit. Observing the ocean is a costly and time consuming business. As our crew will soon find out, dangling a temperature and salinity probe over the side of the boat then hauling it up again takes a while and gives us one single profile of temperature and salinity – a speck in the ocean and a snapshot in time. ARGO floats are like self contained profilers, sinking to whatever depth we tell them to and then travelling along with an ocean current and popping up when we tell them to, transmitting temperature and salinity information back to the ARGOS satellite array, then sinking again for another cycle.
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Last chance to write on dry land – Part 1

Hello and welcome to my blog! This is my last chance to write to you on dry land, as tomorrow I’ll be spending many hours on a train heading from the west coast of Scotland down to London to join the rest of the team. I’m incredibly excited now about visiting West Greenland, but cannot yet imagine how it will feel to see a glacier that is losing 20 million tonnes of ice a day. Climate change is real, and we’ll be seeing its effect right before our eyes.
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