Arctic Challenge for Sustainability Project

ArCS Blog

Ice cap and outlet stream observations in Qaanaaq, northwestern Greenland

We began our field campaign in Qaanaaq, northwestern Greenland on 4 July. The ocean in front of the village was covered with sea ice when we arrived. However, the sea ice has disappeared and only icebergs are remaining in the ocean. After the sea ice disappeared, a large transport ship arrived at the village. The ship supplied a lot of materials to a supermarket, which made everyone happy after a long winter spent without ship transport. The ship tells us the arrival of summer in the village.

In the summer of 2015 and 2016, the road connecting the village and Qaanaaq Airport was destroyed by increased discharge of an outlet stream of Qaanaaq Glacier located in the north of the village. One of our aims of this field campaign is to understand the process controlling the discharge from the ice cap into the stream.

After the arrival, we immediately began field observations at Qaanaaq Glacier. First, we installed an automatic weather station and time-lapse cameras on the glacier to record meteorological data, melt rate and changes in glacier surface conditions. We also measured surface mass balance and flow velocity of the glacier, which have been continuously measured since 2012. During our observation period, we go up to the glacier frequently to observe changes in snowpack and ice surface conditions.

We also measure the discharge in the outlet stream. The discharge is relatively small so far, because small amount of meltwater is generated on the glacier. We continue the measurement during the summer period.

Several more colleagues will arrive and join us in the late July to perform ocean measurements. After their arrival, our activity field expands to the ocean. I am looking forward to observational data obtained by this field campaign.

Ken Kondo (Hokkaido University)


Arrival of a transport ship at Qaanaaq


Installing a weather station on Qaanaaq Ice Cap


Discharge measurement in an outlet stream of the ice cap