Photo Of The Day: Baffin Bay

Baffin Bay, located between Greenland and Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, is a desolate and beautiful place.

It is also very far north. Though the above image looks like it might have been taken in the dead of winter, it was actually snapped in late August of this year. Check out photographer island602‘s big set of images of the Arctic for more near-frozen delights.

And upload your photos of icebergs and other frozen things to the Flickr Gadling Group Pool. We choose our favorites from the pool at Photos of the Day.

Terra Nova Expedition Ship Discovered

The ship that gave the name to Captain Robert Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova expedition has been found in the waters off Greenland, the Schmidt Ocean Institute reports.

The SS Terra Nova took Scott’s British team to Antarctica in 1910. They raced to be the first to the South Pole but were beaten by Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian team by only a matter of days. On their way back, bad weather set in and Scott and several team members died.

The SS Terra Nova continued to work in Arctic and Antarctic waters before finally getting damaged by ice and sinking off Greenland in 1943. A ship from the Schmidt Ocean Institute was testing its multibeam mapping echo sounders when it discovered the ship deep in the frigid waters.

The testing was being carried out in preparation for a undersea survey planned for next year. Who knows what else they’ll discover!

[Photo of Terra Nova expedition courtesy NOAA]

Kulusuk: Sneaking Into Greenland

Over the last decade, Greenland has opened up to increasing numbers of tourists. The Danish territory, with new powers of political autonomy as of 2009, inspires adventurous travelers with its extreme weather and dramatic geographies. Greenland is also incredibly expensive to visit, as there are no roads connecting towns and settlements along the coast. To get from town to town, one must either fly very pricey Air Greenland or travel by boat.

The easiest and least expensive way to visit Greenland is to book a day tour from Iceland to the Eastern Greenlandic island of Kulusuk, which is a 110-minute flight from Reykjavík‘s domestic airport. The day trip is not cheap. It runs €533 ($654) though August 20, and from August 21 through September 8 it is priced at €477 ($585). The day trip gives participants a guide-accompanied walking tour from the airport to the village, about an hour of free time wandering around the village, a tour of the village church, a brief discussion of Greenland and a viewing of a folk dance performed by a Greenlandic man, translated by the guide. The tour itself lasts around five hours.

The tour finishes up with a boat ride through an iceberg-laden bay back to a bit of shoreline adjacent to the airport. This boat ride, an inarguable highlight, costs an extra 150 DKK ($25).

The tour guide is an Icelandic man who’s lived in Greenland on and off for years. At the start of the tour, he gestured toward the glaciers and peaks across from the airport and told us that there were countless mountains and lakes in Greenland that had neither name nor number. Greenland is the world’s 12th largest territory, and the guide’s teaser of an introduction hit home just how vast a place Greenland is. The guide also provided information about Greenlandic life and culture. To my neophyte ears, his summaries struck me from time to time as a bit too absolute for inclusion in such a brief tour.

We made our way slowly to the village of Kulusuk. With around 300 inhabitants, the village is a small yet frankly fascinating place. There are brightly colored houses, a supermarket stocked with Danish goods, a post office and a church. The terrain is rocky. A picnic table at the top of a hill within the village permits a gorgeous panorama, which includes views of enormous icebergs. There is also a souvenir shop on the island, manned during my visit by the son of the tour guide. Villagers mostly leave visitors alone, though a few salutations were exchanged.

The tour is offered from early June through early September through Air Iceland. Though expensive, I found it to be worthwhile as a very basic introduction to Greenland. At the same time, I concluded the tour wanting more information about Greenlandic life and culture and craving more opportunities for exposure and immersion. By the time the Air Iceland plane had landed back in Reykjavík I had already plotted a visit to capital Nuuk for a blast of “urban” Greenlandic life.

For passport stamp collectors, this day trip is a special joy. Though there is no official passport control between Iceland and Greenland, vanity entry and exit stamps are offered free of charge to passengers.

[Images: Alex Robertson Textor]

Only 3 Percent Of Greenland’s Ice Sheet Remains … Is It Time To Worry?

Update: Just to clarify, the ice sheet melting is the top layer of the ice block, not 97% of the ice in Greenland.

Drastic changes in the environment have been occurring for quite awhile, many attributing the cause to global warming. However, while these transformations usually occur over long periods of time, a recent rapid melting of Greenland‘s ice sheet has left only 3 percent, leaving scientists stunned.

From July 8 to July 12, NASA satellites recorded a 97 percent thaw of the ice. Melting was even seen at Summit Station, the country’s highest and coldest place. Usually, scientist’s would expect a change this drastic to occur over a 150-year period.

“This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to data error,” Son Nghiem, a researcher from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, told Digital Trends.

Apparently, the melting was caused by a very warm steam of air that enveloped Greenland. While locals chatted about how sunny it was, the occurrence is actually part of a much larger – and scary – picture.

What are your thoughts on global warming?

[photo via Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason]

Admiring Greenland From The Air While Freaking Out An Air Marshal

Intercontinental flights are usually pretty dull. The route between London and Chicago, however, is one I always look forward to. That’s because it flies over the southern tip of Greenland. The airplane heads northwest over Ireland, then arcs across the North Atlantic, barely missing Iceland before crossing Greenland.

I always seem to be lucky with the weather and get a clear view of the jagged coastline of fjords and glacial screes. The last time I flew that route the weather was especially fine. The water below sparkles a pale sapphire, reflecting the sun so brightly that it stings my eyes. Scattered across the ocean are the white dots of ice floes. Some are surrounded by water colored an emerald green. At first I don’t know what I’m looking at until I see several white dots clustered close together, with emerald both between and surrounding them, and I realize that I’m seeing icebergs, their tips white and their submerged parts green in the sea water.

Further inland, massive glaciers glint in the sunlight. There are no roads or buildings on the land, and no boats on the water. No people anywhere.

“Are you looking at the other plane?” a voice asks behind me.

“Huh?” I reply, not too eloquently. Then I notice another plane a little above us and far off to our right. I frown at it like it’s an unwelcome intruder. I don’t want to see evidence of people here.

“Um, no, I’m looking at Greenland,” I reply with a bit more coherence.

I’m standing at the emergency exit door looking out the porthole because the grumpy guy sitting at the window seat in my row is more interested in watching an inflight movie and wants the window closed.

“Why do you need to stand here to do that?” the person standing behind me asks.

After griping about the idiocy of the guy in my row, I launch into an enthusiastic monologue about how I’ve always wanted to go to Greenland, how I’ve eagerly read explorer’s tales and Inuit folklore, that this was one of the few truly wild places left on Earth and it’s my dream to someday trek across it.

“Really.” His response comes out flat, suspicious.

I turn around and look at the person I’m talking to for the first time. Behind me stands a burly man with a buzz cut. He’s studying me closely.

This is an air marshal, I realize, and while everyone else is sleeping or watching movies I’m standing by the emergency exit.

Suddenly I see the situation from his perspective. He’s trying to decide whether I’m an eccentric nutcase or a terrorist. I prefer to have him think I’m an eccentric nutcase. I launch into an even more enthusiastic monologue about Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen’s first skiing expedition across Greenland in 1888, and the Norse settlements there that served as a base for Viking exploration of North America. Then I talk about the natural history of the island. My hopes of making it to the United States as a free man rise as I watch his eyes glaze over.

“Whatever,” he says with a shrug and walks off. He hasn’t even glanced out the window.

I go back to watching the glaciers below and dreaming of my next adventure.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]