IKKA expedition 2021
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IKKA expedition 2021

What a challenging year to carry out fieldwork in Greenland! Despite many obstacles such as covid-19 restrictions, bad weather, (too) heavy luggage, engine failure, and technical problems on Air Greenland’s Airbus, we managed to get all people to Greenland and back again with some delays. Due to all these obstacles, this was also the year of changing plans every 5-10 minutes to adapt to the situation. I have never experienced such a ‘crazy’ field season before both weather-wise and from not being able to do long-term planning. The IKKA crew this year consisted of geophysicist Paul Seaman from the UK, marine geologist Richard Gyllencreutz, geophysicist Erik Sturkell, and oceanographer Bengt Liljebladh from Sweden, diver/biologist Uli Kunz and diver/marine archaeologist Florian Huber from Germany, and then myself, a geochemist from Denmark. In addition, we had the company of Claudia Ruby and Steffen Bohn from German film company Gruppe5/ZDF the first couple of days. The aim this year was to do 1) geophysical measurements of the sediment layer with a sub-bottom profiler, 2) make oceanographic profiles with an Idronaut CTD probe and retrieve dataloggers deployed by Jesper Højdal in June, 3) take samples of the same three ikaite columns sampled in 2019, 4) supplement water samples from rivers and streams, and 5) make film recordings both above and under water for the program Terra X, featured by ZDF. Thus, several projects to coordinate and make sure every one got a chance to carry out the research they had planned. Because of consistent bad weather with rain and strong winds, we had to stay the whole period at Grønnedal Navy Base instead of establishing a camp in Ikka Fjord. Furthermore, we had to call in assistance from locals in Arsuk to help us with boat transports to supplement the Targa boat from Blue Ice Explorer. This luckily turned out really well, and we are super grateful for the help from Kunuk Albrechtsen and Jonathan Rasmussen from Arsuk and their speedy Poca boats! Many thanks also to Morten, Torben and Henrik at Grønnedal for hosting and helping us! This ensured we could at least dry ourselves and the instruments over night.

Photo: Gabrielle. The Ikka expedition crew anno 2021 in front of the Íka hut. From left to right: Bengt, Florian, Jonathan, Uli, Kunuk, Erik, Richard, and Paul.

All in all, we managed to do almost all we had planned to do. Uli and Florian took spectacular photos under water that shows biology is still at play on at least some of the ikaite columns. We sincerely hope the biologists will get a chance to return to Ikka Fjord soon and make a new inventory on the biological life on the columns. Thanks to all who helped and contributed to this year’s fieldwork and not least our financial sponsors the Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Aase og Jørgen Münters Fond, Aage V. Jensens Fonde, and the Research Fund at the University of Iceland!

Photo: Gabrielle. Richard and Bengt running the sub-bottom profiler.
Photo: Florian Huber, SUBMARIS. Close up on the sub-bottom profiler from Stockholm University.
Photo: Florian Huber, SUBMARIS. Bengt getting the Idronaut CTD probe ready for measurements.
Photo: Erik Sturkell. Gabrielle preparing the CTD cast and following the real-time data from the Idronaut.
Photo: Florian Huber, SUBMARIS. Laasinguaq from Blue Ice Explorer and Paul getting the boat to the right position.
Photo: Gabrielle. Erik helping with the water sampling.
Photo: Gabrielle. Steffen Bohn, our camera and sound-man in action.
Photo: Erik Sturkell. Gabrielle being interviewed about the carbonatite and syenite rocks and their importance for the formation of ikaite columns.
Photo: Gabrielle. Claudia and Steffen filming and interviewing Paul about his drone imaging project.
Photo: Florian Huber, SUBMARIS. Uli helping me measuring the pH in the river.
Photo: Paul Seaman. Bengt helping the divers back onboard SIKU.
Photo: Florian Huber, SUBMARIS. Fantastic photo of our fantastic helpers, Kunuk and Jonathan from Arsuk.
Photo: Paul Seaman. Data processing in Grønnedal.
Photo: Gabrielle. Atollen seen through the water surface at low tide.
Photo: Florian Huber, SUBMARIS. Uli taking a column sample.
Photo: Florian Huber, SUBMARIS. Ikaite columns.
Photo: Florian Huber, SUBMARIS. Ikaite column with coralline algae.
Photo: Florian Huber, SUBMARIS. Wall of ikaite columns.
Photo: Florian Huber, SUBMARIS. Ikaite column with biological life.
Photo: Florian Huber, SUBMARIS. Uli swimming in between columns.
Photo: Gabrielle. On our way back to Narsarsuaq with some engine problems, which meant the trip took from 9 to 15. We saw 7 whales on the way!
Photo. Gabrielle. Florian and Uli on our way to Brattahlid.
Photo: Gabrielle. Erik and Paul in Qassiarsuk (Brattahlid) with the carbonatite tuff in the background.
Photo: Erik Sturkell. Paul studying the monument to commemorate Erik the Red’s settlement in Brattahlid more than 1000 years ago.
Photo: Erik Sturkell. Both the history and the Geology at Qassiarsuk is utterly fascinating!
Photo: Gabrielle. Richard, Paul and tiger Tam in a funny selfie moment.
Photo: Gabrielle. Two Swedish Polar Researchers, Bengt Liljebladh and Richard Gyllencreutz with the Qooroq glacier in the back.
Photo: Richard Gyllencreutz. Gabrielle and Paul on top of Signalhøjen in Narsarsuaq. We stranded in Narsarsuaq for two days due to Air Greenland’s flight problems.
Photo: Paul Seaman. Richard, Gabrielle and Bengt toasting for successful fieldwork and a last night in Narsarsuaq.