We work day and night and are excited when we first see the data. As well as our conventional measurements of temperature, salt and velocity profiles, we deploy mooringsg for long-term measurements in the water column and use a turbulence sensor to measure small-scale mixing processes. We are also using a mini CTD for the first time. It consists of a small 20-centimetre long sensor, which we have attached to a fishing rod. This allows us to take the helicopter to places that we can't reach with the Polarstern, allowing us to obtain a temperature profile from an ice floe, for example, within a short time and without much effort. And we are angling deeper than we thought: instead of the expected 50 metres, the water here is up to 650 metres deep.
On the glacier itself, we are building two ice radar measurements stations for our AWI glaciologists. These will be collected in a year's time and will then provide insight into the extent of the melt at the bottom of the glacier. As it is propelled by Atlantic water, the data will perfectly complement our oceanographic measurements at the glacier front.
We have anchored instruments in the water column which we will use to record currents, temperature and salt content for a year in order to gain more detailed insight into the inflow of the warm Atlantic water under the glacier tongue and the outflow of the meltwater.
But it's not just our measurement results that are exciting, the landscape in Greenland is also impressive. I can't get enough of the glaciers, mountains and islands in the sunlight – even though right now we are spending our days travelling up and down the glacier front in order to take as many measurements as possible.
But the beauty of these ice masses seems more transient than ever. We will try to do our part in creating a better understanding of the processes that can trigger a possible collapse of the glacier tongue. How quickly will the ice tongue melt from below? How long will the 79° North Glacier survive?
Our new measurement data will answer some of the questions. We are looking forward to analysing our treasured set of data, and we are currently planning our return to the glacier next year. That's when we will retrieve our moorings, and we hope that the wind and the ice will allow us to make our way to the 79° North Glacier once again.