After 28 days and 1,200 kilometers traveled, the WindSled ended on June 22 the 2017 Greenland IceRiver expedition with the polar eco-vehicle. On that day they arrived to the point of departure, the town of Kangerlussuaq. During the crossing, Ramón Larramendi and four other crew members traveled from nearby the southwest coast to the scientific base EastGRIP, in the northwest, with the aim of collecting data for several international scientific projects, thus demonstrating the potential of the convoy for scientific research in the Arctic and Antarctic.

The IceRiver expedition arrived on June 20 at EastGRIP, an installation located on the same ice stream in which the crew had spent the last week doing various jobs. “It was an expedition in which the WindSled has not had one single technical problem and in which we have fulfilled all our plans. The weather has accompanied us and it has become clear that this vehicle caters to clean and efficient science in the polar territories, as the Australian scientist, Ross Edwards, an expedition member, realized on the ground, “commented Larramendi upon arrival to Kangerlussuaq.

During the IceRiver expedition, sponsored by Tierras Polares travel agency and supported by the EastGRIP base and the Dark Snow project, snow samples and detailed information has been collected for five different international scientific projects, all related to the impacts of Arctic melting, its origin and its consequences.

Added to the adventure of traversing an almost unknown territory, the challenge of obtaining data so that climate models conform as much as possible to reality. Likewise, it served to define new improvements in the WindSled convoy, especially in relation to the energy supply of the devices, which is powered by solar panels, and the design of the kite controls. Although throughout the scientific adventure the weather was favorable, they withstood temperatures of up to -28ºC at night and during the day they registered temperatures close to the thaw of -2.5º. Weather forecasters from the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) provided predictions.

The expedition crew was formed by five members, Larramendi, the scientist Ross Edwards, the polar guide Hilo Moreno, the audiovisual producer Nacho García (The Beagle Productions) and the Greenlander Jens Jacob Simonsen. The WindSled remains, completely disassembled, inside the EastGrip scientific base, waiting for possible new expeditions in 2018.

During the first 10 days of the crossing, the expedition headed for northern Greenland, ascending from 2,000 meters to 3,012 meters, with a load of 2,000 kilos, which was increasing with snow samples collected by Edwards. Once at Greenland’s highest altitude, they found the ice stream that begins on the other side, the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream (NEGIS), estimated to advance about 100 meters a year dragging large masses of ice into the ocean and that is studied precisely by the EastGRIP facility. For another 10 days, they stopped every 20 kilometers, until completing a total of 12 holes. Likewise, they were collecting polar air samples and data with a GPR radar capable of obtaining data at a depth of 25 meters.

After their arrival at the EastGRIP facility, which now houses 36 scientists from 12 different nationalities, they had the opportunity to inform them about the WindSled’s potential. “There is great interest in its possibilities,” said Larramendi. They are new allies that join the scientists who have participated in the IceRiver 2017.

The expedition is sponsored by the Tierras Polares travel agency and supported by EastGRIP scientific base, the Dark Snow Project and the Spanish Geographical Society.

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