Thursday, April 28, 2011

Leaving Home

“Do I need a gun?”
“No, polar bears are fairly rare in this part of Greenland.”
“Fairly rare?”
Dr. Jemma Wadham, one of our expedition leaders, laughed and told me not to worry. They hadn’t seen any bears in the past. Aside from the fairly rare massive carnivores, I’m told there will be other hazards- hurricane force winds, plagues of biting flies and mosquitoes, glacier traverses, and of course the daunting task of keeping equipment working in the Arctic for 100 days.
This trip is the result of a lot of planning and preparation. A few weeks ago, I sent five hundred pounds of equipment to Greenland, and I really hope it’ll be waiting for me when I arrive. Last week I called our contact in Greenland to whom I’ve shipped everything, and asked about Greenland Customs or anything else I should be concerned about. I’m not sure he understood the questions but he did respond (in a thick accent), “No, not necessary,” whatever that meant. The shipment includes everything from radon detectors and solar panels to pounds of Peanut Butter Cups and coffee. I also shipped what my advisor has termed our “Science Tent” which is really just a large heavy-duty hunting tent from Cabela’s, which for some reason comes equipped with no less than six cup holders. There I will set up my laboratory, an amalgamation of car batteries, computers, detectors, and tools. For sleeping, I brought a small four-season tent and a very warm sleeping bag.

There are a number of things I decided I couldn’t live without. Despite a friend’s insistence that I should do away with technology and adopt an aesthetic lifestyle, I bought a Kindle and filled it full of the classics I don’t have the attention span to read within 10 miles of the Internet. Also, in addition to my approximately 100 pounds of luggage, I’m dragging a guitar through all of my flights, a hostel in Copenhagen, and the helicopter ride to our field site. Basically, I hope to return to the states well read, less bad at the guitar, and very rich in data.
In the following months I will be camping in Greenland next to and possibly on the Greenland Ice Sheet (See “About the Expedition” page). I will be writing about our work, life on and around the ice and the people I meet. If you’re interested in this blog, enter your email into the “follow by email” option on this page. This way, you’ll be notified whenever a new post is made and you won’t have to incessantly check for new material. Despite the lack of Internet on the Greenland Ice Sheet, this blog will be updated many times this summer. As researchers come and go through our camp, every week or so, I’ll give them digital copies of pictures and writing to email to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for posting. I will also be taking a few trips to Kangerlussuaq, the nearest town, and would love to have non-work related emails to respond to.

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