Mark Thompson and his team collect data for ASC while skiing in Greenland

Mark Thompson is an avid adventurer with experiences ranging from driving Zodiacs in Antarctica to volunteering to work on a research program in Patagonia.  This spring Mark and a group of close friends decided to embark on a ski adventure inEast Greenland to make some turns, explore this unique environment and participate in a research project to help the science community studying these areas.  The team participated in the Water and Soil Collection in Permafrost Regions Project.  Below is a recap of Mark’s travels and what it was like to collect data while one a fantastic ski trip.

Mark Thompson taking samples. Photo Credit Eric Guth

From Mark:

It was certainly unlike any adventure any of us had ever been on. The conditions we experienced posed many great challenges. Most of our 10 days in the field we experienced wet snow or rain, thankfully not much wind. The ground was 98% covered in heavy wet snow and made for slow progress which when not on skis you would post hole knee to thigh high. Wet slide avalanches were a non-stop phenomenon in all directions cascading like waterfalls from the sheer rock walls surrounding the Tasiilap Valley we were traveling. We did have a few partial days of sunshine that allowed us to dry out gear and explore around a bit. 

After arriving in the village of Kulusuk and assessing what the conditions would permit we decided to continue with our original plan of visiting the Tasiilap Kua valley although the main fjord was still covered in ice. This meant we would need to drag our sleds about 10km through heavy wet snow to reach the valley. A combination of weather and ground conditions kept progress slow but we did reach the valley and make a base camp. Because of these challenges we weren’t able to travel as far into the valley as hoped which would have us passing by the numerous glacial valleys needed for collecting samples. We were able to collect 6 samples during our trip, 3 water, 3 soil. Although the water samples collected were from the glacial valleys we did cross, It was difficult to determine whether or not it the water samples were from glacial melt or mainly snow melt. Additionally, snow coverage made soil collection difficult. The soil collections we were able to make were quite sandy and made up primarily of glacial sandy soils. I wish we could have done more collecting but as it turns out, at least this year, conditions in May in E Greenland make it extremely challenging.

The addition of the science aspect to our adventure was something that we all enjoyed and hope to participate in with future trips. Although not as fruitful as originally hoped, thanks for allowing us the opportunity.

Mark Thompson 2013


Getting a hand while sampling snow for ASC. Photo Credit Eric Guth