In Greenland, a Climate Change Mystery With Clues Written in Water and Stone
The breakfast on the edge of Greenland’s massive ice sheet is ordinary — granola, yogurt, bread and jam. Everything else here is anything but.
“You’d pay a million bucks for a view like this,” says Gordon Hamilton, from the University of Maine by way of Scotland. “Pretty nice breakfast buffet, I guess, for sitting out here next to the ice sheet.”
Hamilton, Detective No. 1 in our Greenland mystery, is sitting on the rocky rim of a glacier. Kind of figures. After all, the man is a glaciologist. But this isn’t just any glacier. It’s the Helheim glacier, one of Greenland’s biggest, a three-mile-wide river of mottled gray, white and stunning blue ice that flows into Sermilik fjord on the island’s southeast coast.
We’re on one side of that fjord. Across, on the other side, is what drew us here — a horizontal stripe running the length of the fjord, about 600 feet above the ice.
“Everybody who’s come here with me has said, ‘What’s that line over there?’” Hamilton says. “And I say, ‘Well, that’s where the glacier was in 2003.’ It’s kind of like the signal clue that something really big had happened.”