Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ice melting at Greenland

The ice on Greenland is melting rapidly.
It's due to a surge of high temperatures, which not only hits our country , but also causes problems in Greenland.

Last week the enormous amount of water that resulted from the melting of a glacier, wiped away a firm bridge over the Watson River, also called Qinnguata Kuussua River, at Kangerlussuaq, which used to be called Sondrestrom.

Maybe that last name rings a bell.
The town is situated at the west coast of Greenland, about one third up of the coastline. Two rivers converge there. Both stem from the Russell Glacier which is wellknown and a large tourist attraction.
Thown is of huge economical importance as it hosts the largest commercial airport of Greenland.
The airport has grown from the initial militairy airport, called Sondrestrom Airport or Bluie West-8, which was founded on October 7 1941 by the United States Army Air Forces.
It was one of the bases that were founded when Denmark got occupied by the Germans in WW2. The USAAF thought those bases would secure the safety of the USA.
After WW2 the importance of the bases was lost, but during the cold war it was thought they could function as parts of the Distant Early Warning Line and they were manned again. With the decline of the Russian importance in the world the use of the bases diminished and on september 30 1992 the last airforce men left the place.

The buildings were left and they're still used by the local people.

Not many people live there as the conditions are harsh.
When the army personell left the population of 404 dropped to 291 and a year later, in 1994, only 281 people lived there. In 2010 the population had grown to 552 people.

Cruise ships can navigate the fjord and tourists are welcomed at the settement.
They come to watch the glacier, walk on Greenland's icesheet, watch the wonderful surroundings and ofcourse the northern lights.
Some use the airport to board one of the domestic flights of Greenland to go up further north. When the weather permits flights are scheduled every day.

Due the the problems caused by the watermasses the area south of the bridge doesn't have any electricity, ehich means they don't have good water and can't use the radar.
It's unknown at the moment if the electricity supply is restored.
It might well be.
The river has found new races to run and the level of the main river has dropped.
Concerns that a lake had drained were not necessary.

But more water is expected.
The temperature at a height of 3000 metres was 2.2 degrees celcius a few days ago, as was measured by the summit station.
The white snow has melted and it has left the darker snow bare. Which means the sun has more grip on the snow and melting speeds up, causing more flooding of the lower areas.

Every 150 years the temperature gets as high as last week.
The reason is unknown.

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