Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Coolest Place on Earth

When they say that Greenland is The Coolest Place on Earth, they aren't kidding. In fact, it's their motto. Here's a firsthand account of that coolness factor. This was truly one of the coolest experiences of my life - walking on the massive Greenland ice cap. This particular peak is known as Point 660. You can literally cross a little water stream and on to the ice cap by stepping on this precariously put wooden plank. It was summer so we were walking directly on the surface of the ice, while being careful not to slip and fall around one of the water streams.

It's more slippery around those. In summer, the ice melts faster and creates these streams on the surface that eventually end up in one of the holes, called moulin, in the ice cap. It is suggested that the moulins enable water to reach all the way down, causing the ice sheet to slide.

At the edge of the ice cap though, it is mixed with the land, and it almost looks dirty, but it also allows one to see the structure in detail providing a contrast for the eyes.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009


Niviarsiaq, which means 'young maidens', is the national flower of Greenland. It is also found in north America, primarily the Canadian archipelago. These flowers are everywhere in summer. I took these pictures on the way to one of the glacier sites - the one that is visible over the flowers below.

It is such a pretty site. There are limited flora in Greenland because of the rock and tundra landscape. Niviarsiaq grow on whatever little land they find, even if covered with rocks.

I had a hard time choosing what pictures to put here. So here's a selection from my dozens of Niviarsiaq pictures. If you Google Niviarsiaq, you'll find several more pictures of these pretty flowers on Webshots, Flickr etc.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cuteness abundant

Let's start the new year with some cuteness. I dare say we are all in need of something to cheer us up in these trying times. I am going to continue posting some (over due) pictures from my past trips to Greenland here. Huskies are the first thing you notice in Greenland. Summer is the season for them to rest, breed, and get ready for the winter. The bigger dogs are chained outside, and for a good reason too. The puppies are running around and are just about the cutest little things you'll ever see.
If you go near them, the big dogs try to scare you away, and the puppies try to emulate them, except they are kind of scared themselves. So they bark in their baby voices and fall back at the same time. Very amusing.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

The way back

On the way back from Gakona to Anchorage I didn't have much time to stop and take many pictures. 'Many' is a relative term of course. Although I don't recommend it, I must admit that some of these pictures are taken from a moving car (VERY slowly moving, which you can do since there is practically no traffic at all). But really, can you blame me for wanting to take a picture of a house by a frozen lake with a float plane parked on it ?

It was a beautiful day. Perfectly blue skies that brought out the color in the mountains.

And the water vapor hanging low in the valleys all day.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The golden sun

Here it is. The grand entrance of the much-awaited Sun. It's golden. It makes everything colorful and breathes life into the surroundings. For me, the sun doesn't just provide life, but also livelihood. It makes my science worthwhile to study and helps me be useful to the society by aiding the exploration of the unknown.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the horizon

It's only moments before the sunrise. The sun is just below the horizon. We had been waiting to see the sun and clear skies. Because clouds = no experiments. Let's see..we can already see the first rays making the clouds blush on the top of Mt. Sanford.
Pull up a chair on the deck to watch the sunrise. Enjoy the steaming cup of coffee and the steaming river in -10 F.
Almost there. We can already see that the sun is hiding behind Wrangell. Once it makes it up in the sky, it'll make everything nice and toasty. Or not, you know. Stay tuned for the grand entrance.

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Morning coffee

As the sun starts giving warmth to the frozen earth, the flowing river wakes up and starts breathing. We watched this work of nature comfortably sitting close to a fire in the breakfast room with the morning coffee in hand and contemplated if the blue skies were there to stay.

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This is the place I typically stay at in Alaska. The Copper River flows right next to the B&B, hence the name - Riverview. The river wasn't yet frozen in October. I am sure it has, by now. When it does freeze, sometimes the wolves like to cross it, so I was glad it was October. The first view here is looking across the river at the layers of shrubs and trees, each with a distinct shade. The second photograph is a log cabin at the B&B.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Last rays

Winter evenings in Alaska are special. The sun is usually hanging low in the sky almost all day. When it sets, the last rays turn the mountains pink. It's the most beautiful thing you'd have ever seen. Here is Mt. Sanford on one such evening from an earlier trip. This time alas, I didn't get to view this. Look how different it looks from the previous post.

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