The second guest blog from the Glacier in a Greenhouse team
Now that we are happily settled at our basecamp at Fljόtstunga and our research is well underway, we thought it an appropriate time for our second blog. We arrived in Iceland on Monday 15th August, met up with the Landy, and headed for the mountains. Whilst David took to left hand driving without a problem, negotiating the Icelandic petrol stations proved more of an issue. After pre-paying for more diesel than we could we could fit in the tank and having to call out the nice Icelandic man to help, we managed to set the alarm off, drawing rather a lot of attention to ourselves in the process!
Good weather for the first few days allowed us to venture straight off for our first trip to Eiríksjökull, the glacier we were planning to undertake our research on. We soon established that the mapped tracks were somewhat misleading, as a large impenetrable lava field lay between us and our target.
After driving the Landy in as far as we could, we decided our only option was walk the remaining 10km of the route, a gruelling two and half hour trek. After a brief look around, including ‘misplacing’ the now infamously named ‘Maverick David’ we had a picturesque lunch by a crystal blue supraglacial lake, before making the return journey to the Landy, and returning back to camp for a much needed dinner.
Following this outing we decided that substantial research on Eiriksjokull each day was unfortunately going to be unfeasible, as we can only access the glacier on foot safely during reasonable weather. We will therefore be carrying out the majority of our research at the neighbouring plateau ice field of orisjokull.
Þorisjokull is a similarly remote plateau icefield set in the heart of some ofIceland’s most rugged and spectacular terrain, around an hours drive from our base camp. Although accessible by track, conditions are extremely rough, often likened to the surface of the moon and even vividly described by James as ‘not too dissimilar to how one might imagine Hell to be’!
After a couple of hair-raising slopes and water crossings have resulted in yelps of fear from Vic as we ricochet off one another in the back, providing the rest of us with great amusement! Once stationed near to the North East outlet lobe on which we have focused our research, we set out and dispersed to various parts of the glacier foreland, working in pairs on numerous projects.
These include research into the subglacial drainage system, glacial sedimentary deposits, debris transport within the ice and landsystems mapping which will be later compiled to acquire a wider understanding of how the glacial system operates as a whole. This is particularly significant given Þorisjokull’s rapid retreat in the past few decades, and will help us to assess future changes under a predicted warmer climate.
Having become accustomed to the Icelandic climate and terrain, as well as our various research methods, we have settled into something of a routine drill of expedition life and are thoroughly looking to the challenges of the coming weeks.
Until next time…. The GiaG Team