3 June 2009

Royal visit to the ice

Crown Prince Frederik and his fellow heirs to the throne from Sweden, Crown Princess Victoria and from Norway, Crown Prince Haakon have visited the NEEM camp on the Greenland ice cap, where they observed the ice core drilling and learned about the scientific research and climate changes.

They arrived at Kangerlussuaq (Søndre Strømfjord) on Wednesday and sailed to Disko Bay, where they visited the Arctic Station. Saturday morning they were back in Kangerlussuaq and, after a short briefing and getting equipped with field clothes the expedition, they headed to the camp with the Hercules, when the weather suddenly began to act up, but fortunately,despite low clouds and poor visibility, the plane could just manage to land.

Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon, Swedish Crown Prince Victoria, the
camp's American cook, Sarah and Danish Crown Prince Frederik in the
dome, which is a large wooden building containing a kitchen, dining room,
office and a dormitory.

It was a large group that invaded the camp - in addition to the royal guests there were Scandinavian representatives from the the organisations from the International Polar Year (IPY), patrons for the IPY's National Committees in Norway, Sweden and Denmark as well as scientists from the USA and Canada. In all, 31 people visited the camp and 18 stayed overnight, including the royal guests.

Greenland and arctic research greatly interest Crown Prince Frederik and he had already expressed his desire to visit the camp a year ago. Now it was possible and just as the three heirs to the throne visited Svalbard together last year, it was arranged for all three to visit the ice core drilling in Greenland.

Magnificent and successful visit

It was an intense visit, where they came down into the drilling hall, where the researchers bore ice cores through the almost 3 kilometer thick ice cap. They were in the science trench, where they saw how one measures the electrical conductivity of the ice and in that way reveal large volcanic eruption in the Earth's past. They listened to the researchers explain about the ice core drill itself, how the drilling is done, how one constructs a camp for scientific research in the middle of the ice cap and about global warming in the past and in the future - all of which awoke great interest and lively discussions.

The three heirs to the throne from Sweden, Denmark and Norway
together with Professor Dorthe Dahl-Jensen in front of the Hercules
airplane in Kangerlussuaq.

Then there was speed, when they took a ride on snowmobiles out to see how a landing strip is constructed and maintained out in the middle of the ice cap. The rest of the evening was relaxed and pleasant with a nice dinner and dancing into the wee hours - a tradition on Saturday night in the camp. The royal guests slept in tents and bunk beds like the rest of the people in the camp.

Everyone got up early the next morning and after yet another briefing about the science and research at the place, the plane arrived at 10.45 to pick up the guests. The weather was poor again and the planned visit to the American camp, Summit, was canceled. At 12.10 the Hercules plane took off with the guests to Kangerlussuaq, where the three Nordic heirs to the throne had yet another overnight stay together with the researchers at the base for the NEEM project.

”Everyone felt exhausted, but enriched after the visit. I would like to express my gratitude to the residents of the camp who worked very hard to make the visit a success, to our guests who demonstrated a great appreciation of our work and their relaxed manner, which helped everyone in the camp feel at ease", expresses camp leader, ice core researcher Jørgen Peder Steffensen in the Field diaries from NEEM.

Professor Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, who just returned home from the trip to Greenland, also called it a magnificent and successful visit.