The Glacier in a Greenhouse team bid farewell to Iceland
In the final blog post from Iceland, the Glacier in a Greenhouse Team leave their base camp Flótstunga and travel in their Landy to the South East to continue their research.
“After spending around two and a half weeks carrying out our research on Thorisjökull, and having measured what seems like an infinite number of rocks, it was time to leave our base camp at Flótstunga and make our way to the South East to continue research on the outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest icecap.
As we had spent the previous day packing up the Landy, we were able to make an early start and take full advantage of our first real day off to sample some of Iceland’s major tourist hotspots. These included Þingvellir national park, site of the North Atlantic Ridge and home to Iceland’s first parliament, Geyser and Gulfoss waterfall.
Named ‘The Golden Triangle’, these three sites are some of Iceland’s most visited attractions and it is easy to see why, being truly impressive and offering tourists just a small taste of the weird and wonderful geographic features that Iceland has to offer. However, having spent the expedition so far in relative seclusion, the sheer hoards of people and car parks choked with coaches proved a little overwhelming for the team!
Ultimately, the highlight of the day had to be the long anticipated chocolate coated ice cream at Vik; the generous portions resulting in rather a lot of mess but proving a welcome change from expedition rations! By 8pm and after a ten hour journey, we arrived at our new base, unpacked, and settled down to our favourite curry; ready to begin our final weeks work.
The main reason for our move down to the south coast was to carry out research that will complement our investigations at þorisjökull, by looking at glaciers which have much more of a history of study. To that end we split into two groups to make the most of our short study period here. Will, David, Nicola and Sian have been looking at debris entrainment and transport pathways at Kviarjökull, whilst James, Vic and Clare have been looking at eskers and outwash fans (landforms laid down by glacial meltwater) at Breidamerkurjökull.
We plan to apply what is already known about the dynamics of these glaciers, along with our own observations and data, to the unstudied site of þorisjökull, in the hope that this will enhance our understanding of the processes taking place at þorisjökull.
Upon moving to the south east of the island the weather trends suggested that we were in for a final week of fine weather, however our luck had finally ran out. We were welcomed to our new research area with heavy rain and gale force winds, a true test for both our waterproofs and our character. This weather really tested our resolve, with both access to the site and data collection turning from enjoyable to gruelling. However, knowing that we had the Landy close by to provide small restbite kept us going when the weather and terrain got tough.
On Thursday morning, it was sadly time to make the 6 hour journey back to the Reykjavik.
As per usual, having experienced weather nothing short of horrendous during the last week, the weather turned and the drive back was bathed in sunshine. However, this did mean that everyone got the opportunity to see the many outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull and surrounding landscape in its full stunning glory. Once we reached Reykjavik, the fully-laden Landy, that has served us so well over the last month, was sadly left at the docks, ready to be shipped back to the UK.
All that is left for us now is to spend the last night of our expedition in a plusher than expected airport bunkhouse (which to our amazement included breakfast at 4am), and catch a flight home at the rather unpleasant hour of 7am.
After spending almost a month in this incredible country it seems strange to think that soon we will be back in the UK and back to the normalities of home life. This expedition has pushed us to our limits and provided us with so many experiences that will stay with us for life. But for now, goodbye Iceland, you will be missed.”
Check out the latest photos from the GiaG Team on Flickr. You can also follow their updates on their Facebook page – Glacier in a Greenhouse. If you missed the GiaG Team’s earlier tales from their trip you can catch up with them here: