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Greenland 2023: a summer with auks

Hello everyone ! Back from a 3rd scientific mission to Greenland, I wanted to share this extraordinary experience with you through a blog in 10 episodes. Written and published retrospectively (the Internet has not yet reached our remote hut), but based on my daily travel notes and illustrated with photographs from the year, these episodes will appear every Friday on my website - you can subscribe! Blog | VM photo nature - and will be relayed on my Facebook and Instagram pages.

Vejle Fjord (4 a.m. August 4)


Head to Greenland, the largest island in the world (2.2 million km²) and constituent country of the Kingdom of Denmark (with increased autonomy since 2009), ¾ covered by a thick ice cap, and particularly sparsely populated (only 57,000 inhabitants). And more precisely towards its east coast, "halfway up" let's say. 70°44'N: north of Iceland, south of Spitsbergen. My two colleagues and I arrived there by plane from Iceland on July 13. Flight over the great Scoresby Fjord, the largest in the world, passing near the village of Ittoqqortoormiit (we will come back to this in a future episode, practice your spelling), landing on the dirt runway of Constable Point, then helicopter ride to our final destination: Kap Høegh / Ukaleqarteq. The maps mention both the Danish name and the Greenlandic name, which actually means… “the place where there are hares” (here too we will come back to this).

180° view from the colony: Kolding fjord on the left, Vejle fjord on the right.

The landscapes of this east coast are both beautiful and harsh, essentially mineral, successive mountain ranges, interspersed with glaciers and fjords (in other words ancient glacial valleys). Most of Greenland's glaciers come from the central ice cap, whose average ice thickness is 1600 meters, and which peaks at 3367 meters above sea level. The Liverpool Land to which we are traveling is separated from this central cap, and its jagged rocky peaks rise up to 1430 meters.

On the sea side, in summer, the landscapes are extremely changeable, depending on the quantity of pack ice, the more or less altered aspect of it, the wind, the tide, the sea currents... with in particular a giant conveyor belt, carrying enormous quantities of ice floes from the Arctic Ocean, whose ice pack breaks at the start of summer. From one year to the next, the landscape differs, depending in particular on the date on which the adjacent fjords (Vejle in the north, Kolding in the south) free themselves of their fast ice. And then even from one day to the next, from one hour to the next, the landscape can be extremely moving, as illustrated by the time-lapses taken in 2015 and visible on my website: Grand Nord | VM photo nature

Kolding fjord 10 days apart (07/20 and 08/01)

The weather also varies from year to year, some summers are rainy and windy, like in 2020, others more stable and sunny, like this year. Anyway, given the latitude, it is relatively cool, around 5°C. And important thing: in July, the day is permanent!

scarf of morning mist above the hut (07/20)

[next episode] A totally unknown bird: the Little Auk

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04 sept 2023

J'ai hâte de lire le prochain épisode ! ☺️

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