Speeding by snowmobile across Kongsvegen Glacier on Spitsbergen island, Norwegian Polar Institute glaciologist Jack Kohler and his team core snow high atop glaciers, focus GPS positioning points, and update instrumentation and poles staked deep into the ice that track glacial movement and changes in ice mass.
Svalbard glaciers run the gamut, from those that surge forward into the sea once a century to those that are receding. Kohler focuses on the ebb and flow of ice among four glaciers. Trends show a net loss of mass as the local climate rapidly changes. It’s cold work at an elevation of 750 meters (2460 feet) atop a glacier with a stiff wind at -14° Celsius (7° degrees Fahrenheit) and nowhere to hide.
Fortunately, glaciologists often dig pits to core the snow and stay nice and toasty. Unfortunately, foolish photographers often stand above those pits taking pictures of the glaciologists for hours. Brrrr! Pay off? The photog gets the honor of filling in the pit and work up a sweat afterwards. Welcome, hot work!
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