Flying home to San Francisco from Paris a number of years ago, I literally spent hours with my nose pressed to the window as we flew over icy mountains and ice floes at the southern end of Greenland. Unlike flying to the east coast of Canada or the U.S., flying to the west coast means the plane flies at a higher latitude, affording stellar views of the far north. When I was lucky enough to be in Paris again for work (and pleasure) this past spring, I deliberately booked a north-facing seat. The window was unfortunately dirty on the outside, but I hardly noticed, and tried to capture images with my iPhone now and then.
These photos are probably the closest I’ll ever get to Greenland.
This summer, I’ve been avidly following climber Alex Honnold (of Free Solo fame) as he traveled around Greenland with a climbing and scientific team, doing some first ascents but also helping carry out some scientific projects with a glaciologist (collecting core samples and measurements, and using a NASA robot to record measurements in a fjord, amongst other pursuits). What they observed and discovered will be part of a National Geographic film to be released next year.
The work of Dr. Heïdi Sevestre, the glaciologist who is part of Alex Honnold’s team in Greenland, is fascinating. This recent article about her work talks about how climate change is effecting the melting of glaciers and the rise of sea levels. It’s absorbing and sometimes sobering work, and makes me grateful that scientists and explorers are immersing themselves in beautiful yet treacherous environments to provide insight into our future as a planet. And while I can only observe this particular environment from above, it’s a reminder to me to stay aware and support those doing the hard work below.