A World of Ice

Greenland Zodiac 6345 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 38 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

For these last set of images of the wilderness surrounding Qaleriq camp in South Greenland, I’ll focus on what we saw while taking a zodiac ride around the glaciers.  We had started out the morning with that beautiful sunrise that I described in a previous blog post (A Peaceful Greenlandic Sunrise).  The clouds rolled in after that and by the time we boarded the zodiac around 10:30am, the clouds had spread throughout the sky and created a beautiful filtered light across the waters and on the glacier in this image below.

Greenland Zodiac 6119 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/11, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Our driver took us to several fronts of the glacier and explained to us how climate change and global warming are causing rapid melting of these glaciers.  Where there used to be nunataks (a mountain or rocky peak surrounded by a glacier), is now just a mountain with a glacial front on either side.  Some of these changes have occurred in just the previous year.  As we approached one of the glacial fronts, we slowed down to navigate among the icebergs.

Greenland Zodiac 6143 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/250 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As we got closer to this glacial front, our guide explained to us that this was a more active glacier in that it created many icebergs.  This process of ice chunks breaking off the edges of the glacier is also known as “calving.”

Greenland Zodiac 6212 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 70 mm, f/13, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

We enjoyed being so close to such an enormous pristine structure. I learned that the blue ice occurs when the snow is compressed into ice crystals that pushes air out. Since water absorbs less blue light than air does, we see the blue light that is reflected in the areas where the water or ice crystals are more dense.

Greenland Zodiac 6643 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 58 mm, f/16, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Our driver cautioned us that he had to keep us far enough away from the glacier since it was more active and pointed out that the blue coloring also indicated that the glacier was calving.  As if on cue, we heard a large cracking sound, and luckily, I caught images of the calving process as ice broke off into the waters.

Greenland Zodiac 6251 August 17, 2018Greenland Zodiac 6260 August 17, 2018Greenland Zodiac 6264 August 17, 2018

Image: Series of images showing the “calving” process of an iceberg breaking off the Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 50 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

We toured around some more, taking our time weaving in and out of the icebergs so that we all got a chance to take pictures of the scenes around us.  There were times that we came across black ice that is difficult to spot for drivers, as you can see on the left in the image below.

Greenland Zodiac 6313 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 29 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As the sky cleared out and the waters calmed down, we explored another glacial front and had some nice reflections on the water.

Greenland Zodiac 6382 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 28 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

When we got closer, I took more images zoomed in on the glacier to capture the lines and shapes of the ice formations.  The patterns of the peaks in the ice look as though they could tell a story of this foreign world.

Greenland Zodiac 6359 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 70 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As we moved further down the glacier to where the land was now exposed, the contrast of the blue and white of the ice against the browns of the land further brought to our attention the drastic changes that can happen in a year.  The land shown on the right was once covered by a glacier in the recent past.

Greenland Zodiac 6389 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 52 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

We continued to float along the glacial front and came to an area where there were larger icebergs and thinner layers of the glacier covering the land.

Greenland Zodiac 6723 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 52 mm, f/16, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

We backed up for a bigger panoramic view of the area as well.  This scene also gives you and idea of where we had to climb on land before ice trekking on the glacier as described in my previous post (A Glacial Hike to Remember).

Greenland Zodiac 6548 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 60 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As we finished up our tour, we came across an area with the sound of rushing water.  As we got closer, we could see a river gushing out from the glacier.  It was incredible in its sound, magnitude and power.

Greenland Zodiac 6778 August 17, 2018

Image: A river flowing out of Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 56 mm, f/14, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Luckily, I took a video with my iPhone of this amazing phenomenon, although it is a bit shaky from standing in a zodiac.

As we finished up the tour, we came across a sheet of ice forming a glacial wall.  This last image that I leave you with is a bit flatter than the rest, but the longer I looked at it, the more I saw.  I could imagine climbing up the side of this glacier using the switchbacks and crawling over boulders of ice.  It was inviting yet terrifying.  This truly was another world.

Greenland Zodiac 6788 August 17, 2018

Image: A wall of the Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 66 mm, f/14, 1/640 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

To see these images individually and more that were not included here, please visit my gallery here: Amy’s Impressions

Author: Dr. Amy Novotny

Amy Novotny is a physical therapist, marathon/ultra runner and nature photographer. She treats patients for a variety of conditions but specializes in chronic pain and calming an overactive nervous system using special diaphragmatic breathing. She has used this technique to help her qualify and run in four Boston marathons! She enjoys the outdoors and can often be found running and hiking on trails in throughout Arizona. She attempts to capture the beauty of nature with her photography both locally in Arizona and also throughout the United States. She is becoming more interested in wildlife photography and attempting to capture the emotion of animal interactions. In her spare time, Amy volunteers as a photo guide for the Arizona Highways PhotoScapes nonprofit and shares her joy of nature with others. Please feel free to contact her regarding her photography, physical therapy or running.

18 thoughts on “A World of Ice”

  1. oh no, they took all the good adjectives! lol. Isn’t calving the craziest thing to witness? i continue to look forward to your posts and am passing them along to friends. xox

    Liked by 1 person

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