Through the Prince Christian Sound

Photos by Carolina Nobre

“Greenland is great because it has complex boundary currents,” explains Bob Pickart. That’s why, in the course of our trip, we’ve spent a lot of time hanging out around  Greenland: to study the currents that snake around the sloping ocean floor near it. Scientists on board the Knorr are accomplishing this with round-the-clock deployments of various instruments.

But Greenland is also great because it is very scenic. After days of hovering to the east of Greenland, the science crew took the day off as we steamed through the Prince Christian Sound.



A narrow channel called the Prince Christian Sound splits the very southern bit of Greenland from the rest of the remote land mass. For most of the year, it is clogged with pack ice. For now, its clear —save for icebergs, and little chunks of ice called “growlers” — allowing water, and a few ships, to flow through. The water in this channel is a mere trickle compared to the North Atlantic, so we’re not here to study it, just to use it as a throughway. (It would be an equally long trip to travel around the tip of the country.) 

Our path through Greenland

Our path through Greenland


There are mountains 1,200 meters high, some of them laced with glacial ice. Melted water streams down mountains in little water falls. Icebergs float next to us, pristine and blue, like something on the side of a water bottle label. 

Bob Pickart has a little ritual that has to do with buy nolvadex online icebergs: On days that the science team places heavy strings of instruments in the ocean, he counts the number of icebergs he can see. The day before we steamed through Greenland, it was a whopping 25. 

Out in the ocean, icebergs are foes to those long strings of instruments. Pickart’s instruments sit anchored to the ocean floor. If an iceberg comes along and snags the line, it can damage them. Worse still, it can drag he anchor —also loaded with precious instruments and data —along with it. 

There are a lot of icebergs to count: the ocean around Greenland is an iceberg highway, and we are placing moorings right in their path. 


But today, icebergs are just a novelty (for those who are not actively watching out for them from the bridge of the ship, at least). Crew members and scientists stand outside to take selfies with them, and watch them from lawn chairs. 

“Isn’t it weird to know that you’ll remember this day for the rest of your life?,”observes graduate student Nick Foukal. 

We pass a little town, Aappilattoq. Population: just over 100 —but there is enough infrastructure that we have cell phone service. Here, I learn that is not much more costly to use data in Greenland than it is anywhere else abroad.


We were lucky to have a fairly-fog free day — a few clouds hung around, largely, it seemed, for cinematic effect. 

We exited in the afternoon, back onto the open ocean, on the other side of the iceberg highway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.