Fjieldbanken: Mirrored Beauty of the Night

NWF   |   July 20, 2007

Midnight_with_icebergs_4The natural mirrored beauty of the "fjieldsbanken"  at the mouth of the Jakobshavn fjord in the Disco Bay at midnight can be absolutely breathtaking. This is the most active iceberg bank in the Northern hemisphere and because of global warming, icebergs like these are being spawned at an unprecedented rate.

Since it stays light 24 hours a day this time of the year, several boats full of tourists visit the Bay and cruise through hundreds of large icebergs calved from a now distant glacier that is breaking off ice at nearly two meters per minute at the "Jakobshavn Isfjord."  Brave souls paddle about in kyaks weaving in and out of massive icebergs and scattered cakes of floating ice.

                          The extensiBoat_captain_navigating_icebergsve iceberg bank called fjieldsbanken, is jam-packed with endless shapes and sizes of icebergs, massive ice floes and slush ice debris. Nine-tenths of the iceberg’s mass is under the surface of the water. 

This fjieldsbanken is a mass of icebergs that are temporarily hung up on a underwater terminal moraine which is a sand and gravel debris pile left behind when the glacier stopped growing and retreated up the Jackobshavn 14 kilometers east.  The fjieldsbanken looks completely different each day as the rising tide releases a new crop of icebergs to drift into the Bay.

Some of the ice floes are known by the captains as "black ice" which is not evolved directly from compressed snow like the glaciers but is created directly through the freezzing of water.  Captains must keep a constant look out for large blocks  black ice which if undetected can severely damage or sink a vessel.

Published: July 20, 2007