Ilulissat Update: the Das Fieldsite

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This time, as we sat in the helicopter, we decided not to get too eager until the helicopter had finally left the ground, and thankfully it did! A beautiful 20 min helicopter flight later over the Jakobshaven fjord, and we were met by Sarah Das, colleagues and her team at the spectacular fieldsite – located ~1km from the toe of a sea terminating glacier. As we had arrived at the site several days later than anticipated, we had to collect the same number of samples in a much shorter period of time. Thankfully the WHOI scientists were amenable of our hectic schedule, and willing to drop everything to help us collect our data.

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Within one hour of arriving at the fieldsite we began by collecting samples from an active subglacial plume that was visibly moving surface ice, so we quickly got our sampling kit together and headed into one of the boats. The plume location was jammed with icebergs and surface ice but we managed to find a spot that allowed us to collect plume samples at both the surface and at depth. After processing the samples, Sarah took us to the land terminating section of the glacier with promises of finding a prominent subglacial outlet. After climbing steep moraine we made it to a highly pressurized subglacial opening that violently expelled a large volume of zero degree water, we were utterly thrilled to get such a rare and ideal sampling location!  Realizing that the sediment load of the subglacial water was remarkably high, we sent Sarah and her colleagues back to camp as collection time would definitely take several more hours… We toughed it out and managed to filter and collect over 7 liters of water with 8 filter changes, over a span of 3 hours.

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We returned to camp worn out, cold and wet but were greeted with friendly faces and a warm dinner that was freshly caught by one of the local fisherman. It was a hard day but totally worth it.

The next day we flew back to Ilulissat to be warmly welcomed by Sarah Aciego who’d finally made it to join us for the rest of the Greenland expedition.


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