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Field Notebook

August 10, 2012
Apocalyptic Planet Excerpt: Greenland

Twin Otter wing over Greenland (photo: CC)
Twin Otter wing over Greenland (photo: CC)
A space had opened between storms, and I picked up this flight to camp. I was crammed in the back of the cargo hold with gear and supplies stacked nearly to the ceiling, crates of sensors and electronics, boxes of food, a wooden gear sled, and many wine bottles taped up so they wouldn't shatter en route. The other passenger was José Rial, a charcoal-gray-haired chaos researcher and climate change scholar out of the University of North Caronlina who was born in Spain and raised in Venezuela. We were both buckled into jump seats against the rear bulkhead. Out of his rumpled coat, José pulled two small plastic airplane bottles of rum.

"For the flight," he said in a gravid accent.

He handed one bottle to me. We cracked them open and clicked plastic necks together to toast to our journey into the abyss. José shot back a quarter of the bottle and ducked his head into his oval window.

"The ice sheet in all its glory," he said. He twirled his hand in the air, adding, "As Darwin would say, so much beauty for so little purpose."

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