27 August, 2019, the Ryder expedition.
We left the fjord two days ago. Seems like we are in the same place as then now. We have not moved much as its almost impossible to move, at least move fast. We move by 1 knot.
All engines up! Crawling around gigantic sea ice floes, always ahead of us, blocking our path.
We do not have a straight path. Our path in life is surrounding ourselves with our own tracks.
Scientists onboard call it mapping. On the other hand, they call all our movements mapping, so whatever we do its valuable science. That’s a comfort that our time is not wasted.
Still much to explore in mysterious Northwest Greenland
Minutes ago, we sent our helicopters to Wulf Land for a farewell. Last call for Wulff Land!
The mission is to “close” Wulff Land. All science is done! Wrong! The science we could do is done. We could have done more, so much more … One year at the archelogy site, sea level – one year, logs – one year, and so on. And we have not even reached Victoria fjord yet. This will take many cruises, a lifetime of expeditions to map and solve mysterious Northwest Greenland.
I will not be onboard. I am retired. Went non-retired to be here now. But others will come here again. Continue the work and revealing the mysteries of this place. We have started to do our part. We explored Peterman in 2015. Moved up north to Ryder now. We can tick of these two and look northward for coming years.
Science is like an endless puzzle that never runs out of pieces
But we are not done, tired or fed up. Time has been lucky for us. We are ahead of schedule.
An unknown phenomenon! Never heard of! A new discovery! Ahead of schedule but not out of plans; rush over to Canadian side (1 knot!), Map the Polynia, the open water on the northeastern corner of Elsmere Island (big as a mid-European country), then down to Peterman to tick of the wish list of things we did not do 4 years ago. Why did we not do them then? Were we not thorough enough? Did we do sloppy science? Left the job half done?
Guess not. Guess it´s just science. You can’t do it all at once. Find the answer and then leave it. It´s more like an endless puzzle, that never runs out of pieces. You need to start somewhere and try to lay the complete picture. A good strategy is to start along the straight side or at the corners (if a square or rectangle) where you have the foundation of truth. That’s how we do it. That’s why we want to investigate Peterman again. Not all over but to continue the knowledge we gathered last time here. 4 years of work, analyses and work has taken us to a new level. We have new points of fundamental truth. A slightly new puzzle. That’s how we work. That’s how scientists do science.
New scientific questions are born every day
Yesterday they found a house. A house up her is a hut. Nobody living there now though. Not for years, we guess. Or perhaps one. Chocolate for year back, but one with expiry date 2019.
How long lasts chocolate? 4000 years? Probably less. Must belong to the Sirius Patrol, the patrol that patrols Greenland. On dog sledges. We could see the proof in the hut. Pemmican. It´s like the power bars the marathon type of athletes uses, but for dogs. Definitely, traces of the Sirius people in recent times. Well after the last glaciation period, where the science spends most of their time trying to sort out how it all happened. When did the ice sink and collapsed? Did it disappear north or south? How did the Atlantic water speed it all up? What is happening around us? Questions everywhere? New scientific questions born every day. Hypothesis here, there and everywhere. To me, it looks like ideas for new expeditions are being formed. I have seen this before on previous expeditions. I have studied this and it’s a pattern. Halfway into a cruise plan, the next one starts to emerge. Progress and future!
Point is – we have so much to do up here. The Arctic is white on the map. Not only for the sea ice. It´s the sign of un-knowledge or non-knowledge. We have models for most things telling us how the future will be. But models are built on data. Real data. Collected by field work.
On land, at sea and below. No data no models, or at least you cannot trust them. So, ideas for new expeditions, new hypothesis, new discoveries of missing data are the DNA sequences building the models and the scientific discoveries. Intriguing. Catch 22 in a way.
This is hard to do – science. Needs recourses. Probably Oden is the only one that can do this.
Break into the northern fjords without nuclear power. Still, we could use more power, and weight and a few other things that we learned about being a Polar scientific platform since Oden was built more than 30 years ago. Arctic and Antarctica are often pointed to as the keys for climate change, yet we know so little about them. Why is there less than a handful vessels ever built that can do this? Must be that there is no interest to know more about these keys. Perhaps we think it can be solved with an app on a phone that can open doors. I have heard they exist. But for now and here, we need a vessel that can reach these areas.
Text av: Ulf Hedman