Scoresby Mission Science Report 2016

In 2016, Naturevolution led a scientific expedition – the Scoresby Mission – into the heart of Scoresby Sund, the largest fjord system in the world. Our studies took place in the heart of the glaciers of the Renland peninsula, in the tundra home to many animal species of Jameson Land, and in several fjords carrying many icebergs. The project had many objectives (listed below) in several scientific areas, as well as an exploratory component.

Publication of the preliminary scientific report

Two years have passed since the expedition, two years during which the researchers analysed the data collected in the field. Today we are pleased to present the first results of the scientific expedition:

➔ Read the scientific report of the Scoresby Mission (2018)

Update 2019: expedition biologists Nicolas Gaidet and Tanguy Daufresne analyzed muskoxen observations in Jameson Land, home to the largest population in northeastern Greenland, and published their results in the journal Rangifer: Are muskoxen in Jameson Land, northeast Greenland, in decline? (in English). While their counts are not sufficient to provide a comprehensive picture of the muskox population in this region, they do highlight disturbing results (few individuals in general and few young individuals in particular, relative to the latest estimates) that suggest a decline in their population.

Draft Science Report Mission Scoresby 2016

Reminders of the scientific objectives of the expedition

The scientific and exploration objectives of the expedition were divided into several components:

Biodiversity and Species Evolution – Biologists have looked at the role of the Arctic regions in the spread of the avian influenza virus by the migratory birds that inhabit them in the summer, by tens of thousands. Using satellite images, they studied the colonisation of recently thawed environments by the first living organisms, with today’s Greenland reproducing the conditions of the deglaciation of the Alps 12,000 years ago. Since the arctic wolf re-colonized Greenland from Canada some 30 years ago, traces of its presence have been searched for as little data exists on the population density and distribution of this iconic but discreet animal. On the botanical side, samples taken from transects on different terrains will allow a better understanding of the adaptation of plants to the arctic environment. Finally, many underwater recordings have been made with the aid of a hydrophone in order to contribute to the development of this new method of sound observation of aquatic environments in order to assess their state of health.

Glaciology and Geophysics – One of the points that gave rise to the expedition was the desire to elucidate an ‘anomaly’ in the flow of a large Greenlandic glacier. Indeed, one of the arms of the Edward Bailey Glacier, which drains most of the Renland ice cap, ‘up’ a valley to a lake, which flows well into the ocean. The expedition also provided an opportunity to make numerous measurements using seismic sensors and geophones at the surface of and near glaciers, at the bottom of an ice mill and on icebergs, providing a better understanding of the history and flow mechanics of these glaciers, as well as the dislocation and seismicity of icebergs, which can travel thousands of kilometres to populated areas.

Exploration, glacial speleoglacial and diving – The expedition also saw the first solo crossing of the immense Catalinadal glacial valley on the Renland Peninsula by Evrard Wendenbaum. Several active ice mills on different glaciers have been explored, and the apneaist Laurent Marie made a dive into a lake located at the bottom of one of them. Finally, two dry outflows – ‘ice tunnels’ – from Edward Bailey Glacier were explored.

Scoresby Sund expedition in Greenland
Scientists from the 2016 Scoresby Mission studied the flow of glaciers from the Renland Peninsula into Scoresby Sund.

The Scoresby Mission also included an Outreach & Pedagogy component. Here you can find a summary of all our actions in this area: First assessment of our awareness-raising activities related to the Scoresby Mission.

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