Dr. Tim Dowson joined the Sailing to Siku expedition to research salt marsh development in high latitude Greenland, in the Disko Bugt area. Salt marshes are important archives of information on changes in relative sea level from the Holocene period, as a result of their position at the interface between land and sea, their development controlled by biological, marine and climatic factors. Read full bio here.
Looking at the detailed maps available, I thought I had found an area close to our planned route north where there was a good chance of finding a salt marsh. I was optimistic although no marshes have been reported this far north, as I had seen some salt marsh plants at Tasiusaq where we spent our third night. So as it was warm enough for a marsh to grow, it was just a question of protection from large waves and ice damage.
Reaching the area took extra time, including a slow crossing of the aptly-named Giesecke Ice fiord, where the question was constantly which ice floes were safe to bump into – OK if the size of a vacuum cleaner, preferably not those the size of a fridge. But when we reached the site, all we found we found was a small round bay with a few small bergs bobbing about, enough to destroy any marsh starting to form. But at least I saw some more of the grass-like plants that I wanted, in the splash zone above the high tide line. A bit disappointed, under thickening cloud on our way on to a potential mooring point for the night, I had a 2-second glimpse through a crack in the edge of an island of just what I was after – plants below the high tide line. In less than an hour, with the help of Mette and Valentine, I had a few samples from the most important zones of this new marsh, each one ‘leveled’ to give a position in relation to the today’s sea level – crucial to interpreting the lab findings when I am back at Durham University.