Burgerbukta Fjord (off Hornsund Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #1 – a panorama of our ship in the Burgerbukta Fjord

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #1 – a panorama of our ship in the Burgerbukta Fjord

 

On our last afternoon sailing down the coast of Spitsbergen Island of Svalbard, our ship repositioned from our morning position at the point on the Hornsund Fjord where it meets the Burgerbukta Fjord – Gnålodden – to an “anchorage” near the far end of the Burgerbukta Fjord (where the fjord actually splits into two bays, Vestre Burgerbukta and Austre Burgerbukta, with tidewater glaciers pouring down the mountainsides into each bay).  The best way to explore the area was in hour-plus-long Zodiac boat tours, providing us an opportunity to get up fairly close to the tidewater glacier faces and to sail through the icebergs and ice floes which proved to be very photogenic.  We were very sad at the end of the cruising to realize that this would be our last encounter with the fjords, glaciers and icebergs, as that evening we began the long sail to the south to reach the northern tip of Norway and the city of Tromso, from which we had embarked on this remarkable journey in the Arctic.

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #2

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #2

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #3

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #3

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #4

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #4

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #5

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #5

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #6

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #6

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #7 – the top, white edge of the glacier looks like a meringue

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #7 – the top, white edge of the glacier looks like a meringue

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #8

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #8

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #9

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #9

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #10 – a double hanging glacier; note that as the front edge of each glacier is pushed forward and melts, the falling ice can

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #10 – a double hanging glacier; note that as the front edge of each glacier is pushed forward and melts, the falling ice can create dangerous situations for any boats too close to the cliff edge!

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #1 – a panorama of the storm clouds over Burgerbutka Fjord and our ship “anchored”

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #1 – a panorama of the storm clouds over Burgerbutka Fjord and our ship “anchored” (stationary, as the water is too deep to drop an anchor) where the Hornsund Fjord becomes the Burgerbutka Fjord

 

On our last day of the Svalbard expedition, we visited the Hornsund Fjord on Spitsbergen Island which some call “Spitsbergen in a nutshell” because it has wild scenery with impressive mountains and glaciers and bays filled with glacial ice.  We made a Zodiac landing at historic Gnålodden at 8 a.m. when the mountains were still partially covered by fog, with the low summer sun trying to break through in places – yielding some stunning vistas from the beach and further uphill.  The tall, narrow rocky cliff at Gnålodden reminded us of the similar imposing cliff at Alkhornet at the entrance to Isfjorden that we visited the prior week [see our blog post “Alkhornet, Isfjorden, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard”].  The large seabird colony on the cliff face high above the beach provides fertilization for the rich moss beds and tundra at Gnålodden.

At the base of the cliff is a small trappers’ hut from the early 20th century.  It was made famous by having been used for overwintering by some of Norway’s greatest trappers: Henry Rudi (“King of the Polar Bear) in residence 1925-1926 and Wanny Woldstad, author of “The First Woman Trapper on Svalbard” in residence 1932-1933 and with her two sons from Tromso (who grew up to also become famous trappers) in 1934–1935 and Woldstad with other trappers in 1935-1936 and 1936-1937.

We took a long walk on shore and found many great photo opportunities as we walked and reminisced what a terrific expedition we were wrapping up in the Arctic.

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #2 -- the tall, narrow rocky cliff at Gnålodden reminded us of the similar imposing cliff at Alkhornet at the entr

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #2 — the tall, narrow rocky cliff at Gnålodden reminded us of the similar imposing cliff at Alkhornet at the entrance to Isfjorden

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #3 – this was the most fertile stretch of tundra that we encountered on Svalbard, with thousands of flowers on the

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #3 – this was the most fertile stretch of tundra that we encountered on Svalbard, with thousands of flowers on the hillside

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #4

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #4

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #5

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #5

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #6

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #6

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #7 – this small deposit of soil on a shore rock gave life to a wide variety of plants

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #7 – this small deposit of soil on a shore rock gave life to a wide variety of plants

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #8 – tiny mushrooms were a rarity in the tundra

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #8 – tiny mushrooms were a rarity in the tundra

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #9

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #9

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #10 – the historic trappers’ hut (for overwintering) that was made famous by having been used by some of Norway’s greatest trappers: Henry Rudi (“King of the Polar Bear) in residence 1925-1926 and Wanny Woldstad, author of “The First Woman Trapper on Svalbard” in residence 1932-1933 and with her two sons from Tromso (who grew up to also become famous trappers) in 1934-1935 and Woldstad with other trappers in 1935-1936 and 1936-1937

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #11

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #11

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #12

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #12

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #13

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #13

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #14

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #14

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #15

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #15

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #16 -- our ship “anchored” where the Hornsund Fjord becomes the Burgerbutka Fjord

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #16 — our ship “anchored” where the Hornsund Fjord becomes the Burgerbutka Fjord

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #17 – a panorama of Burgerbutka Fjord from the top deck of our ship after the storm clouds had lifted somewhat and

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #17 – a panorama of Burgerbutka Fjord from the top deck of our ship after the storm clouds had lifted somewhat and the sun came out shorty after we returned by Zodiac from our coastal hike at Gnålodden

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #18

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #18

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #19

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #19

 

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #20

Gnålodden, Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #20

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #1

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #1

 

After two days looking for wildlife in the Arctic Pack Ice north of Svalbard (setting a record for the furthest north the ship has ever sailed — reaching Latitude 82º 41’ North and Longitude 022º 57.91’ East), we sailed south overnight and in the morning anchored in a beautiful long fjord on the northwest corner of Spitsbergen Island, Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord).  We explored the area in Zodiacs, guided by experts from our expedition team.  The fjord features little bays with tumbling glaciers and old Devonian red sandstone.  We enjoyed our hour-plus 8 a.m. exploration of the small bay with glaciers, icebergs, a bird cliff and rock islands.

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #2 – three_s company; just after I pressed the shutter, like ballet dancers, all of them dove down underwater to

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #2 – three’s company; just after I pressed the shutter, like ballet dancers, all of them dove down underwater to hunt for lunch

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #3

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #3

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #4

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #4

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #5 -- stunning glacial erosion (Where_s Waldo? Where is the red?)

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #5 — stunning glacial erosion (Where’s Waldo? Where is the red?)

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #6 – thank you, Ansel Adams, for the inspiration from your “Frozen Lake and Cliffs” which is a favorite image!

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #6 – thank you, Ansel Adams, for the inspiration from your “Frozen Lake and Cliffs” which is a favorite image!

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #7

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #7

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #8 – this is a natural scene, not some “blue” added in Photoshop…

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #8 – this is a natural scene, not some “blue” added in Photoshop…

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #9

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #9

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #10

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #10

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #11 – not everyone sees a crocodile in the center (a face of ice, a body of rock…)

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #11 – not everyone sees a crocodile in the center (a face of ice, a body of rock…)

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #12

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #12

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #13

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #13

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #14

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #14

 

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #15 – our ship at anchor behind the icebergs in the middle of the fjord

Raudfjorden (The Red Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #15 – our ship at anchor behind the icebergs in the middle of the fjord

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard

The tidewater glacier flowing into the fjord at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, as viewed from the water (from a Zodiac)

The tidewater glacier flowing into the fjord at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, as viewed from the water (from a Zodiac)

 

From our anchorage spot in Krossfjorden, we sailed mid-day to Juli Bukta in Lilliehöökfjorden on Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, where we anchored in order to launch Zodiacs for cruises of the fjord and close up viewing of the tidewater glacier flowing into the fjord.

 

One part of the uphill glacier, with lateral moraine, flowing into the fjord, Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

One part of the uphill glacier, with lateral moraine, flowing into the fjord, Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

The front edge of the tidewater glacier at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

The front edge of the tidewater glacier at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Blue ice on the front edge of the tidewater glacier at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Blue ice on the front edge of the tidewater glacier at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

A bird colony on an iceberg at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

A bird colony on an iceberg at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

The “king” of the iceberg at, Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

The “king” of the iceberg at, Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Ignoring the “king” on the iceberg at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Ignoring the “king” on the iceberg at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Regal splendor on the iceberg at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Regal splendor on the iceberg at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard

We took a Zodiac from the ship to the Signehamna landing on the shore of Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

We took a Zodiac from the ship to the Signehamna landing on the shore of Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Sailing north on the western side of Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, our next stop was at the Signehamna landing site on Krossfjorden.  With an Arctic historian who was part of our expedition team, we hiked about a mile from our Zodiac boat landing site to a small lake that was not visible from the fjord/landing site.  Nearby we found the remains of the secret, hidden “Knospe” German World War II weather station. [See further information/history, below.]  After lunch our ship sailed by the tidewater glacier at the end of the fjord and we were able to take some scenic photographs.

 

After hiking about a mile (1.6 km) from the landing site we came across this small lake and an important World War II site, nearby, Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

After hiking about a mile (1.6 km) from the landing site we came across this small lake and an important World War II site, nearby, Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

“Germany’s occupation of Norway in 1940 did not have any consequences for Svalbard and its settlement for a little while.  This changed in June 1941, when Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, as the Barents Sea now got a new strategical significance as gateway for important goods from the western allies for the Red Army.  In August 1941, 1,955 Russians and 765 Norwegians were evacuated to the UK and the settlements on Spitsbergen largely destroyed to make sure the Germans would not benefit from them.  This was quickly realised in Germany, and the opportunity was used to establish war weather stations. Weather data from the arctic were vital both for central Europe and for attacking the convoys to Murmansk.  The importance of those convoys for the war in eastern Europe made both the Germans and the Allies put great effort into attacking and, respectively, protecting them.  For Germany, this meant to establish a number of weather stations in the arctic, which the Allies of course tried to prevent.  Competition between the different branches within the German military led to the somewhat strange fact that there were often more than one station wintering in Svalbard, whereas one might have done from a meteorological point of view.  In 1941-42, the station ‘Bansö’ wintered in Adventdalen near Longyearbyen and ‘Knospe’ in Signehamna in the Krossfjord.

“In 1942, the Norwegians tried to get control over Svalbard again.  An attempt was made together with the British with two small ships, the Isbjørn and the Selis.  Four German airfcraft attacked the two ships in the night to 14th May in the Grønfjord; Isbjørn was sunk and Selis caught fire and 14 people were killed.  The surviving force established a garrison with about 80 soldiers in Barentsburg, which had been largely destroyed in the previous summer.  The German weather station Knospe in the Krossfjord was discovered, and a German soldier was shot there.  A German submarine, which came to pick the crew of the weather station up, attacked the Norwegian camp in the Krossfjord. This attack also cost the life of one Norwegian.  Later that year, the Germans again established a weather station in the Krossfjord on the same site (station ‘Nussbaum’).

“…the war for the weather continued. The Germans kept establishing secret weather stations in Svalbard as well as northeast Greenland and Franz Josef Land.  Only in 1944-45, with an increasingly difficult situation in Europe, the Germans ran no less than four staffed weather stations in Svalbard, in addition to other, similar ones elsewhere in the north Atlantic. There is mostly not too much to be seen anymore at the weather stations [sites].  Time and the harsh weather, but mostly souvenir collectors, have taken most of it away, but a few remains can still be seen.” —  www.spitsbergen-svalbard.com/spitsbergen-information/history/the-second-world-war.html

 

The remains of a German World War II remote semi-automated weather station that was invisible from the Signehamna landing site on Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

The remains of the German World War II remote semi-automated weather station – “Knospe” — that was invisible from the Signehamna landing site on Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

On our hike at the “Knospe” German World War II weather station, Seb, an historian who was an expedition guide sailing around Svalbard with us, told us some stories about the Norwegian – German fighting in Krossfjorden during World War II, related to the weather station.  In order to resupply the lead-acid batteries that operated the weather observation equipment and transmitters at the station, every couple of weeks the Germans sailed a submarine into the bay.  Sailors would haul up new batteries and inspect the station to ensure that all was working correctly.  The Norwegians were successful in capturing one of the submarines and its highly secret and much sought after communications equipment – a fully functional Enigma cipher (code machine) and the accompanying top secret code book.  These were forwarded to the Allied code breaking team in Bletchley Park in England where they played a critical role in enabling the Allies to start breaking the codes in secret German military communications. [Bletchley Park was the central site for British (and subsequently, Allied) codebreakers during World War II, located in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England; at its peak, some 10,000 personnel (mostly women mathematicians, physicists, etc.) worked at Bletchley and its outstations.]

While the control of the weather stations in Spitsbergen went back and forth between the Germans (who had established them secretly) and the Norwegians, by 1944 control of the stations was less important to the Allies, because with their code breaking capability, the Allies also used the German military’s weather data to assist in Allied military planning.  The most critical use of the Spitsbergen weather data was in the planning for D-Day.  General Eisenhower argued strongly against the planners who read the weather forecasts and proposed delaying the Allied invasion of Europe (“Operation Overlord”) because of approaching storms.  Eisenhower finally gave in and the amphibious landing and invasion by 160,000 Allied troops along a 50-mile stretch of beaches was rescheduled to June 6, 1944, which resulted in a successful invasion (nevertheless, as anticipated, one costly in terms of casualties and deaths of Allied soldiers).  Standing there at the weather station suddenly gave whole new meaning to the stories in books and movies about Bletchley Park and Alan Turing and the D-Day invasion.

 

Downhill from the weather station was this small pond with beautiful hues in the water, Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Downhill from the weather station was this small pond with beautiful hues in the water, Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Viewed from our ship at anchor in Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, the tidewater glacier can be seen to be flowing downhill into the fjord (panorama)

Viewed from our ship at anchor in Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, the tidewater glacier can be seen to be flowing downhill into the fjord (panorama)

 

 

The glacier as seen later in the morning as we sailed by before exiting Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

The glacier, as seen later in the morning as we sailed by before exiting Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

A close-up of the tidewater glacier ice, Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

A close-up of the tidewater glacier ice, Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Details of the front edge of the tidewater glacier flowing into Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Details of the front edge of the tidewater glacier flowing into Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Our last glimpse of the tidewater glacier in Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, as we turned around to sail out of the fjord

Our last glimpse of the tidewater glacier in Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, as our ship turned around to sail out of the fjord

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Knik Glacier by Air, Anchorage, Alaska USA

When we arrived at Rust_s Fying Service (next to the International Airport that has one of Fed Ex_s largest cargo facilities in the world) we found out that it was too overcast at Mo

When we arrived at Rust’s Fying Service (next to the International Airport that has one of Fed Ex’s largest cargo facilities in the world) we found out that it was too overcast at Mount Denali (formerly Mt KcKinley) to fly up there, Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

Six of us had planned on flying from Anchorage 100 miles (160 kilometers) by float plane to Mount Denali (formerly, Mt McKinley), the tallest mountain at 20,310 feet (6190 meters) in the United States (Alaska, Hawaii and the “Continental” – or “lower 48” – states), but, despite it being a rare sunny in Anchorage, the mountain was socked in and unapproachable by air that morning.  We discussed options with our outstanding floatplane pilot, Mark A. Stadsklev (50,000 flights in 40 years and an Alaska wildlife and landscape book published from his photography), and he suggested we do a shorter, but very scenic, trip up to the Knik Glacier, lake George and back down the Knik River.  We had a great morning with some memorable sights, including landing on Lake George (a USA National Natural Landmark), and very good photographs (below).  Note that there are no roads anywhere in the region, so the only two options are a really long and dangerous ATV (all terrain vehicle) drive or a flight over the surrounding mountains to reach the glacier (and float planes can land on Lake George, as we did).

“Knik Glacier is located on the northern edge of Alaska’s Chugach Mountains…  [It] is one of central Alaska’s greatest rivers of ice.  Often referred to as Alaska’s ‘sunny glacier’, a unique microclimate or ‘rain shadow’ has created a truly diverse ecosystem.  A northern desert surrounded by snow covered peaks, hanging glaciers, and waterfalls.” – www.knikglacier.com

 

Instead, out floatplane pilot, Mark A. Stadsklev, suggested that we fly to Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska USA

Instead, our floatplane pilot, Mark A. Stadsklev, suggested that we fly to Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

A glimpse of the largest floatplane operations center in the United States, Anchorage, Alaska USA

A glimpse of the largest floatplane operations center in the United States, Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

“The Knik Glacier is located 50 miles [80 kilometers] north of Anchorage.  Situated on the northern edge of Alaska’s Chugach Mountains, Knik Glacier is one of the biggest glaciers  in south central Alaska.  At 28 miles long [45 kilometers] and over 5 miles [8 kilometers] across, Knik Glacier is actually a small remnant of a past ice age.  During the Pleistocene ice age 600,000 years ago the Chugach Mountains were covered in ice over 1/2 mile thick [805 meters].  Knik Glacier connected to a massive ice field that extended hundreds of miles into the ocean.

 

There are no roads up here, so the only way to reach Lake George after flying over the Knik Glacier is by floatplane, Anchorage, Alaska USA; additionally, there are some boat operators w

There are no roads up here, so the only way to reach Lake George after flying over the Knik Glacier is by floatplane, Anchorage, Alaska USA; additionally, there are some boat operators with tours up the Knik River to the lake and the tidewater edge of the glacier where it enters the lake

 

The mountain area around the Knik Glacier is filled with snow and small, mountaintop glaciers, Anchorage, Alaska USA

The mountain area around the Knik Glacier is filled with snow and small, mountaintop glaciers, Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

More mountains and additional glaciers on the way to Lake George; Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska USA

More mountains and additional glaciers on the way to Lake George; Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska US

 

The middle snow field looks very inviting for heli-skiing (helicopter); Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska US

The middle snow field looks very inviting for heli-skiing (helicopter); Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska US

 

“Knik Glacier is a master sculptor carving valleys and shaping rock into landscapes of exquisite natural beauty.  Surrounded by 10,000 foot [3,048 meters] snow-covered peaks, hanging glaciers, and waterfalls, the Knik Glacier has carved out one of Alaska’s most spectacular natural amphitheaters.  Knik Glacier is the centerpiece of the 17,000 acre [6,880 hectares] Lake George National Natural Landmark.  The National Natural Landmark Program recognizes over 500 sites in the United States.  Established in 1962, the program aims to encourage voluntary preservation of sites that illustrate the geological and ecological history of the United States and to strengthen the public’s appreciation of America’s natural heritage.  In order to be selected a site must of national significance and the best example of a regions biotic or geologic features. — www.knikglacier.com

 

Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska USA

Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

One tour operator’s web site notes: “if you can’t visit, you can see the glacier in films; it’s been the set for several Hollywood movies, like “Star Trek V” and “Avalanche; in 1991 Paramount PIctures used Knik Glacier to film a portion of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  Knik Glacier was the setting for a scene in which Captain Kirk and Dr McCoy are rescued from the Klingon ice planet prison Rurta Penthe.”

 

This spectacular view shows the Knik Glacier flowing down around the mountains with black moraine stripes visible, into Lake George; Anchorage, Alaska USA

This spectacular view shows the Knik Glacier flowing down around the mountains with black moraine stripes visible, into Lake George; Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

“The Knik Glacier was selected because of a rare geologic phenomenon that occurs here called a “jokulhlaup” (an ice dammed lake).  Jokulhlaups occurred here annually until 1967.  In winter the Knik Glaciers would advance and press its mass of ice, up to 400 feet [122 meters] thick, against the side of Mt. Palmer and block the flow of water from Lake George.  In spring the Lake George Valley behind Knik Glacier would begin to fill with water.  The 5 mile [8 kilometers] lake would swell to over 20 miles [32 kilometers] and water levels would raise 180 feet [xx meters].  The Water levels would eventually rise over the ice dams and the annual breakout would occur.  Millions of gallons of angry surging water would roar down the valley loaded with silt, debris and glacial ice.  This natural wonder occurred annually until 1966 and played a significant role in the lives of Native Americans and early pioneers.  The town of Matanuska had to be relocated due to the annual flooding. Just before 1900 three Indian villages along the Knik River were destroyed by a great flood.  Transportation routes between Anchorage and Palmer would be blocked for a week or two every year.  Early pioneers held a lottery annually to predict the exact time and day the breakout would occur.  Since 1967 a decrease in glacial advance has prevented the formation of Lake George, but a renewal of these awesome events could occur at any time.

 

The tidewater edge of Knik Glacier in Lake George, Anchorage, Alaska USA

The tidewater edge of Knik Glacier in Lake George, Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

“The tremendous events caused by the advance of the Knik Glacier have been replaced by tremendous events of a receding Knik Glacier.  Knik Glacier is on the move! In 1997 the Knik glacier woke from a long slumber.  In response to a global warming trend the Knik Glacier, like many Alaskan Glaciers, is getting smaller.  A new lake over 3 miles [5 kilometers]long and over 400 feet [122 meters] deep has been exposed at the glaciers face and this lake is getting bigger every year.” – www.knikglacier.com

 

Part of the tidewater edge of Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska USA; note that along the edge there are 400-foot (120 meter) ice walls that rise out of Lake George that is filled with iceb

Part of the tidewater edge of Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska USA; note that along the edge there are 400-foot (120 meter) ice walls that rise out of Lake George that is filled with icebergs that are floating, turning, and breaking apart

 

From the Knik Glacier and Lake George we flew down the 25-mile (40 km) long Knik River which empties into the Knok Arm section of Cook Inlet by Anchorage, Alaska USA

From the Knik Glacier and Lake George we flew down the 25-mile (40 km) long Knik River which empties into the Knik Arm section of Cook Inlet by Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

Part of the Knik River delta, Anchorage, Alaska USA

Part of the Knik River delta, Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

The mountains adjacent to the Knik River as we returned to Anchorage, Alaska USA

The mountains adjacent to the Knik River as we returned to Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

The flatlands along the Knik River as we returned to Anchorage, Alaska USA

The flatlands along the Knik River as we returned to Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Antarctica Treaty Historic Site No. 61, British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Welcome to Antarctica Treaty Historic Site No. 61, British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Welcome to Antarctica Treaty Historic Site No. 61, British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

Port Lockroy, off the Neumayer Channel in Antarctica on Goudier Island and Wiencke Island in the Palmer Archipelago, was used as an occasional anchorage by whalers a hundred years ago. It was established in 1944 as Base A by the British as part of a secret wartime initiative to monitor German shipping movements.  That expedition was code-named Operation Tabarin, after a well-known Paris nightclub, because team members would be staying there during the darkness of the Antarctic winter.  After World War II, the station continued to operate in a civilian capacity until 1964, when it ceased operations.  This historic base was recently restored privately by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust and is now open to visitors as a museum.  It is an extremely popular site, as more than half of the 40,000 annual visitors to Antarctica stop at Port Lockroy to visit the museum and Penguin Post Office. For more information about the Antarctic Heritage Trust, visit: www.ukaht.org

Old mooring chains on a rock at the landing site for British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Old mooring chains on a rock at the landing site for British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

The restored main building of British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

The restored main building of British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

The history of Port Lockroy was described in signage at the museum by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust: “The station is of importance as the earliest example of a British scientific station in the Antarctic Peninsula region. It was established as Base A in February 1944 during Operation Tabarin, a British World War II expedition, and remained operation until January 1962.

“Initially, scientific research carried out at the station was topographic survey, geology, meteorology and botany.  From 1950 the station played an important role in ionospheric research and was a key monitoring site during the International Geophysical Year of 1957. The normal occupancy of the station was 4 to 9 people.

Base Kitchen, circa 1940s, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Base Kitchen, circa 1940s, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

“The original station hut, ‘Bransfield House’, still survives as the core of the main building and is the oldest British structure remaining on the Antarctic Peninsula.  The main base building was enlarged in 1952 and 1953.  In 1956 a separate boathouse was constructed and in 1958 the generator building was added to the main base. Other original structures included a Nissen hut [– a prefabricated steel structure, made from a half-cylindrical skin of corrugated steel, known in the U.S. as a Quonset hut –] (used as a store), built in 1944, which later collapsed during the 1990s. It was reconstructed in 2010 on the original foundations to act as accommodation for the seasonal staff.

Penguin Post Office -- the only working post office in Antarctica, British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Penguin Post Office — the only working post office in Antarctica, British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

“Base A, Port Lockroy, was designated HSM No. 61 in 1995 and is conserved and managed by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust on behalf of the UK.  Repair and conservation work of Port Lockroy was undertaken in early 1996 and maintenance is ongoing.  At that time an annual environmental monitoring programme was established to assess potential visitor disturbance to the rookery of Gentoo Penguins (Pygoscelis papua) on Goudier Island.  Results show that there is no discernable impact on penguin breeding success, which is more closely linked to local environmental conditions, such as skua predation, snow cover or the availability of krill.”

The "Beastie", used for ionospheric observations (upper atmosphere research) at Port Lockroy, Antarctica

The “Beastie”, used for ionospheric observations (upper atmosphere research) at Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Pictured above is a 1959 Mk II Union Radio Automatic Ionoscope, better known as a “Beastie” due to its size and the complexity of its components.  It is identical to the one used at Port Lockroy between 1953 and 1961.  A sign of explanation about the “Beastie” and Antarctic research today noted:  “Long-term data from the ‘Beastie’ at Port Lockroy have recently been used by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to demonstrate that the ionosphere over Port Lockroy has been falling by more than a quarter of a mile per annum since measurements began here.  The cause is increased levels of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, which is responsible for global warming.”

 

Wooden snow shoes (Norwegian-style) and skis, circa 1940s, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Wooden snow shoes (Norwegian-style) and skis, circa 1940s, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

Nesting Gentoo Penguins in front of the contemporary Quonset hut living quarters, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Nesting Gentoo Penguins in front of the contemporary Quonset hut living quarters, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Gentoo Penguins, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Gentoo Penguins, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

A glacier flowing into the sea in the channel across from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

A glacier flowing into the sea in the channel across from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

Sailboat from Ushuaia with a French crew, anchored with the Gentoo Penguins at Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Sailboat from Ushuaia, Argentina, with a French crew, anchored with the Gentoo Penguins at Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

Giant icebergs with evening light as we sailed towards Drake Passage and Argentina from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Giant icebergs with evening light as we sailed towards Drake Passage and Argentina from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

Mountains and glaciers with evening light as we sailed towards Drake Passage and Argentina from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Mountains and glaciers with evening light as we sailed towards Drake Passage and Argentina from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

Our last view of glaciers and mountains on the Antarctic coast, in evening light, as we sailed towards Drake Passage and Argentina from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Our last view of glaciers and mountains on the Antarctic Peninsula coast, in evening light, as we sailed towards Drake Passage and Argentina from Port Lockroy, Antarctica