Greenland Climate Notes

A place to share insights into climate variation in this big island

A few of our earlier posts have referred to climate matters and we’ve decided to create a new page on the site for matters climatic. A permanent link to our new Greenland Climate Notes can be seen on the right hand side near the start of the main blog.


reflections on the past week

We had a wee get-together and I’m pleased to report all are fine. As a significant portion of the group had, over many years, exhibited symptoms of a tendency towards natural self-isolation, we seem well prepared for the current circumstances. Also, we’re all members of that sometimes odious group, the privileged educated elite, who should really have less to worry about.

Our coronversation was a break from what for me has been a troubling week.  My personal circumstances could hardly be better – loads of space, ready access to the outdoors and plenty to do. We are starting to have the beguiling sound of the snipe surrounding us at night.  Plus, no problem whatsoever in limiting myself to fortnightly trips to replenish supplies whilst the vulnerable one stays safe at home. For all this, I feel extremely fortunate.

A catalyst for my concerns was an exchange of messages via a forum of which I am a member. Basically a collection of people saying how they were and what they were doing.  Nothing wrong with that of course – unless you are me!  All I could see were yet more signed-up members of the privileged educated elite talking about such things as cleaning out cupboards or reaping the benefits of local fishermen unable to send their produce to market.  In fairness, among the communications were some real concerns such as uncertainty over family members’ jobs and one correspondent enduring a torrid time associated with the care of aged relations.  Helping to add fuel to my fire were the sad deaths of both the wife and the daughter-in-law of a very good friend last week.  You can’t imagine the difficulties he and his son have had, which included being dealt the sucker-punch of precautionary quarantine arrangements.  Meanwhile I’ve also been extremely concerned that my vulnerable brother’s household is not taking self isolation requirements seriously enough.

Then I started thinking about home schooling. Concern became tinged with anger.  Never has there been a better time to have the right parents might be one way of looking at it.  Never has there been a time when everything possible should be done to help ensure that all children are getting the help they need is another.  This probably means much more by way of targeted assistance and technology, although I don’t feel qualified to prescribe what particular approach might work.  I’ve tried to get a local organisation interested in coordinating a project to refurbish Windows laptops.  I’m sure that there are many lying gathering dust throughout the country – that is, since the installation and subsequent poor performance of Windows 10 turned them into an excuse for purchasing a new machine. By installing Linux (Ubuntu)** and the Libre Office Suite a useful computer can often be reborn.  For several months I have had such a machine in daily use for browsing, video calling etc.  My suggestion is that a network of homeworker volunteers such as myself could carry out an agreed upgrade and the appropriate organisation, return or redistribute the items to where best used – either for educational purposes or to help combat social isolation.

Amid the gloom, like most, I’m grateful and humbled by the actions of NHS staff. The NHS less so (this article gives some indication as to why)Spirits have also been lifted by the reaction of engineers and organisations including the CPAP machine and Mercedes Benz and the fantastically uplifting snorkel mask story.

Most of all I’d like to recognise the vast army of carers, particularly those working in the private sector (which is now most of them).  Many are working part-time in jobs with poor contract arrangements and the likelihood of no pay if they can’t work.  In many areas there may be no alternative employment available to them.  A few years ago I had the privilege of getting to know a few such carers and the circumstances surrounding their employment. They gained my enduring admiration.  We should support them where we can. Without extending this piece further, I’ll simply state what everyone knows – there is a link between educational opportunity and the life circumstances that you later inhabit.

Since posting, I came across a couple of articles I thought worth adding. carers as the cannon fodder of coronavirus and how legal action may be taken against Councils in respect of denying educational opportunity.

** Having upgraded a few machines and considered what might be best for a new user my recommendation would now be


Greenland 2019

Greenland coverage in the media continues to increase


The UK isn’t the first country to seek to free the shackles of the Euroempire.  After a referendum in 1982, Greenland eventually left the EEC, forerunner of the EU and subsequently prospered. How border issues have been solved in other cases was reported by the Irish Times.

Climate change

There has been a textual tsunami of articles on how climate change is affecting Greenland, much of it focusing on the melting of glaciers and rising sea levels. The BBC has various articles including some with comparative photos and maps. Continue reading “Greenland 2019”

1969 group mark their 50th!

Enjoyment and sorrow remembered

The surviving members of the 1969 expedition met on 30th May, 2019 for a reunion dinner. In the photo above they are in approximately the same positions as in the group photo of 1969. Missing is Wilf Tauber, who died in a climbing accident in 1972. He was an outstanding expedition member, a strong and contagiously enthusiastic climber, and his early death brought great sorrow to us all. Continue reading “1969 group mark their 50th!”

How old?

A more recent event to reflect on here. Last month saw a reunion that included many members of the various Greenland expeditions led by Phil Gribbon. Phil was celebrating his 90th birthday – or so he says! Always evasive when asked his age and at times going to some length to avoid others gaining sight of either his passport or driving licence details that might provide the necessary evidence, why should we believe him now? Continue reading “How old?”

An impression made an impression

There was a distinct herring-bone arrangement of drainage ditches next to the south end of the Qingua Dalen river, not apparent as we walked through it, but visible from the mountains nearby.   We did not speak of it much at the time, but it comes to mind as I think back to our days there.  I sometimes regret not having taken a photograph.

Continue reading “An impression made an impression”

Qinguadalen – a poem

Grey glacier water,
Sharp red spires,
Ice towers falling,
Tranquil distant snow,
Thick birch scrub
And stinging flies.
Crackling tang of fire
And dancing green auroras
In black northern skies.
So deep, so far it was
Up that sleeping valley:
We shall not find that camp again.

P.Biggar September 1971

Qinguadalen had an impact on all who traversed the birch-scrubbed-fly-ridden valley floor. For some of us it was a memorable single trek to deliver in-advance supplies for those who would inhabit the camp at the head of the valley. For others, it was multiple trips. In the case of Peter and Richard three return journeys. Peter was so affected he wrote a poem.

Continue reading “Qinguadalen – a poem”