Saturday, July 21, 2007

Icy Greenland

Qequertarsuaq, on Disko Island, is a pleasant tumble of bright cottages ... smaller than Sisimiut, with only about 1,000 people. We head off walking through the town on a hike that will take us to a nearby waterfall.

As we pass beyond the houses toward the black-sand beach, we spot huge curves and swirls of blue-gray-white: Icebergs.

"That's what we've come here to see, isn't it?'' says Ruth, a German woman traveling with her mother.

The hike along the mountain leads past dozens of wildflowers, and it's a curious sight: bright fuschia blooms juxtaposed with ice blocks so accessible that the kids in the group run up to play with chunks washed ashore.

It's a friendly town with a pretty much and a small museum chronicling the town's history. But the ice steals the show.

Our ship heads out through a fjord where chunks of ice bob like corks on the flat water. Then the corks become massive, bigger than buses, bigger than our ship. "It's bigger than we are, and that's just the part we can see,'' says Arden, as we all jump from our dinner table to catch the view. We reckon its above-water height at 60 meters, knowing that seven-eights still lie below view.

Later, Andrew, one of the ship's expedition leaders, and I try to figure out the volume of the larger icebergs. About 10 million cubic meters, we figure.

The scene changes, revealing ever more ice, but mostly in smaller chards rather than the curved, carved masses that seem as fanciful as Cinderella's castle.

The huge bergs are going fast, though. Frederike Bronny, one of the expedition staff, recounts a sad statistic from a study by a Danish scientist: In less than a decade, the larger icebergs will be gone. More victims of global warming.



-- Cruise Critic, for more on cruises
-- Norwegian Coastal Voyage, for information on our sailing
-- Greenland tourism, for more on greenland

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