Close, Closer, Closest: Salix glauca, an Arctic Dwarf Willow

October 4, 2021

The rolling hills of the tundra around Kangerlussuaq are covered with small shrubs — nothing grows higher than a few feet in the Arctic climate. One common plant is Salix glauca, a dwarf species of willow. During September, it was covered with fibrous white cottony tufts with tiny black seeds. The top photo shows a … Read More

Initial Reflections on My Greenland Experience

September 30, 2021

Yesterday I made the long trip home from the Arctic village of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, where I spent the month of September documenting its an unusual geopolitical and cross-cultural history. Having been thwarted by the pandemic from beginning it in summer of 2020 as planned, in mid-July I jumped on the sudden opportunity to book flights … Read More

Welcome to Sondrestrom Air Base

September 20, 2021

The air traffic control tower at the Sondrestrom Air Base in Kangerlussuaq with a decorative sign on the roof of the building behind it and a welcome sign with the names of the unit and the base commander in front of it appears in many vintage photographs from the 1960s and ’70s. Above, a 1972 … Read More

New Uses for Old Oil Drums

September 15, 2021

The guardrail along the road up the side of Black Ridge in Kangerlussuaq is made from old metal oil drums filled with gravel to weigh then down and painted in bright colors, with holes punched in the sides and a cable strung through to connect them. Three photos here show a close-up, a single barrel, … Read More

Changing Light

September 14, 2021

This afternoon I headed for Lake Ferguson (Tasersuatsiaq in Greenlandic), about a mile-long walk on a dirt road from where I’m staying. The forecast for 50% chance of snow flurries turned out to be accurate in an unexpected way, because sun and blue skies alternated with gray skies and light snow. This happened three times … Read More

In Search of the Plane Wreck of ’68

September 13, 2021

A piece of an old ski lift I passed in search of a US Air Force T-Bird training plane that crashed nearby in 1968, and has been left essentially untouched. I went for what was supposed to be a short uphill walk to view it from a ridge. The ski lift was set up in … Read More

First Days in Kangerlussuaq

September 8, 2021

Above, a panorama photographed September 6, 2021, looking southeast from the outskirts of Kangerlussuaq at the hill that dominates that view. Below are two vintage photographs from the Danish Arctic Institute, both taken between September 1950 and July 1951 by a Danish Navy conscript named Bent Helmudt, who was stationed here when it was a … Read More

Of COVID, Copenhagen, and Colonialism

September 4, 2021

Kangerlussuaq is called Sondre Strømfjord on this 1957 map of Greenland on display on the ground floor of the Arktisk Institut. The map emphasizes the Danish colonial names in bold lettering, with Greenlandic names present, but in a much smaller font. Those Danish names went by the wayside in 1996 and today you won’t see … Read More

Capturing a Changing Arctic Landscape

August 26, 2021

Kangerlussuaq Airport in 1959 (left) and 2018 when I was last there (right). Photo on left by J.E. Saaby-Hansen, Collection of Danish Arctic Institute. In the summer of 2018 I went on an educational tour of the Canadian Arctic and West Greenland. The last stop, Kangerlussuaq, particularly intrigued me: a town of just 500 citizens that … Read More