Summer Was Filled With Life


Life Sprang Up When the Thaw Came

Ice flows By late April, the sun was shining 23 hours a day but the thaw did not start until late June. Summer was most evident by the breaking up of the sea ice in Wolstenholme Fjord.

By the end of July, the majority of ice had flowed out to sea, and the air temperature averaged about 40 degrees F. (4 C.).

Click here for wide panoramic summer snapshot of the fjord and three glaciers. This is the only fjord in the world that has three glaciers feeding into it near the same point. In the panorama the biggest glacier shown on the right is nearly five miles wide, and the face is well over 100 feet high above the water.

Arctic 'cotton' After the sun was warming enough to thaw out the top inch or two of permafrost, the flowers, grasses, and lichen exploded in the continuous sunshine. The growing season was only through July and August, but everything grew 24 hours a day to make up for the short summer. Above: Cotton Grass (Eriophorum). Sometimes used to line seal skin boots.

Below: Yellow Poppy (Papaver radicatum) and unidentified. Arctic poppy, Thule, Greenland

Arctic grasses and lichen, Thule, GreenlandGrasses, Lichen, and Rocks

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Arctic lichen, Thule, Greenland

More Grasses, Lichen, and Rocks. There was a G.I. joke that went something like this: Everyone departing Thule AB for home after their year of duty was suppose to take a box of rocks with them. Eventually, there would be no rocks and no Thule AB remaining, so no one would have to be assigned there again.

Arctic willow tree, Thule, Greenland Here is one of the few naturally growing trees in this area of Greenland. We found this tree hugging the rocks in order not to be blown away by the severe winds. It was about 2 yards (2 m) long. They grow much like a vine and never grow away from the rocks.

Arctic hare, Thule, Greenland

We saw Arctic hare and fox frequently when we were hiking. The Arctic hare was much bigger than a wild jack rabbit, as we have in California.

It was interesting to see an Arctic hare run on its two hind legs and also hop like a kangaroo.

Arctic fox, Thule, Greenland These Arctic foxes mate for life and share pup-care duties in dens that may have existed for thousands of years. They are good foragers for food. When extra food is available, they bury it to retrieve later. The Arctic fox is white in the winter and brown in the summer. Here we have two that are anxious for summer, and they have already turned brown. One is still in a winter mood and is still wearing a white winter coat.

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© Copyright 1999, revised 2014 by Lawrence Rodrigues
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