An Oceanographer on the Rocks??

By Anna Simpson

I got to be a glaciologist for a day which means that I helped Jason carry cameras, batteries, and tripods up to the top of the high rocks above glacier terminus. We were taken to shore in a small skiff and dropped off at the base of this steep, rocky stream bed - this seemed like the best way to hike to the elevation and rocks we were trying to get to. There was no trail, but not a lot of vegetation, so it was relatively easy in terms of navigation to get to the top. We got to a saddle between the rocky cliffs at which point we left the heavy gear and scrambled around to find a good location to set up the cameras. After a bit of walking around, we found the spot - on top of large, flat rock, 220m above sea level.


Why? Our goal was to set up two cameras positioned to take pictures of the terminus and fjord during daylight hours every 30 seconds. Time lapse photography is useful to track the movement of icebergs in the fjord, calving events, and capture movement of the terminus. It also helps us keep track of wind and rain events and anything else that might affect our data.  In this project in particular, tracking the movement of icebergs can tell us something about the surface circulation patterns in the fjord.


Once we set the tripods up in a good position, we had to gather a lot of rocks (big and small) to stack around the base to keep it very still during the duration of the deployment. We also attached a GPS to the tripod and let it communicate with satellites for an hour to get a very accurate position. It’s important to have a very accurate position of the camera, so quantifiable data can be collected from the pixels in the pictures.

A particularly fun aspect of hiking up so high above the fjord was watching the ship move around (it appears so tiny amongst the high rock walls of the fjord!) and our robotic kayak pulling and successfully deploying the first mooring which was really cool to see from way up above! The following day Akua and Jason hiked up to a lower elevation closer to the terminus to set up 2 more cameras in the same way. 


A few photos from Akua's adventure with Jason the next day.