The difficult task of measuring the Greenland ice sheet is vital for understanding how climate change is changing the polar regions.
4 April, 1.35 pm
As the Twin Otter plane engines roar into action, the familiar sound triggers a tingle of excitement in my stomach: I’m out on fieldwork.
We are the European Space Agency land ice ground team. Our goal is to make measurements of the snow density and layering on the Greenland ice sheet. We will use the data to validate satellite altimetry measurements of the ice sheet surface, to improve the accuracy with which we can monitor how it has changed over time.
As we take off from Ilulissat airport, looking out of the plane I can see a mess of broken icebergs and sea ice in the ocean. Small fishing vessels are dotted around in Disko Bay, leaving a trail of white frothy ocean in their wake.
The boats are dwarfed by the vast size of the giant icebergs that surround them, and serve as a permanent reminder that “normal” life in this part of the world sits at the extreme edge of where humans can live.
We were grounded in Ilulissat for three days before ...