We have returned from four days of fieldwork visiting two lakes in the Blæsedalen valley (in Greenlandic, Itinneq Kangilleq) here on Dikso Island to look at lakes Disko 1 and 2. The hiking was very tough as the terrain is very hummocky, requiring passage through boulders, cobbles, bog, moss and shrubs while carrying our provisions and field equipment. To get to our base camp near the first lake took about 9 hours of hiking, but the continuous 24 hour light here in the Arctic meant there was no rush for dusk.
The first lake, named Disko 1 for the purposes of this project became visible as the clouds evaporated on the second day.
The lake is approximately 1km wide and is surrounded by a mossy, guano rich bog. Disko 1 lies in the central part of the Blæsedalen valley at an altitude of approximately 388 meters.
Despite covering myself in Jungle Formula DEET, ‘Mosiguard’ and homemade citronella extract repellent I still got no fewer than 15 bites. Joe was not on the mosquitoes menu and only got a couple of bites!
We took lake water samples for nutrient analysis back in the lab and filtered lake water for lipid and pigment source studies. We also measured dissolved oxygen, temperature, conductivity and pH using a YSI probe that was calibrated in the field.
On the third day we hiked for about three hours to lake Disko 2 which lies in a glacially scoured basin with steep head walls at either side. Here, at an altitude of 630 meters the vegetation is sparse and the soil is poorly developed in many places. Freeze-thawing is a key action responsible for weathering the basaltic cliffs and is responsible for mounds boulders surrounding the lake.
After the limnology was completed we took soil and plant samples from the surrounding catchment and estimated plant coverage using quadrats at sites in a transect from the lake basin. We decided due to the terrain that it was better to return to our base near Disko 1 to spend the night.
We are now rested after a day to catch up on sleep and have eaten lots of Greenlandic produce to boost our energy levels. Tomorrow we will take a motor boat sailed by Akaaraq in a westerly direction around the coast from Qeqertarsuaq to a beach at Laksebugt (Itilleq) from where we will hike across Iparaatsi to lake Disko 4 and repeat our water sampling and vegetation surveys.
Click here for more on the LAKES project blog.
Image credits: Mark Stevenson and Suzanne McGowan.