Monday, September 29, 2008

Thoughts - Ultima Thule, Gravel Bars and Curiosity

pearyland_ast_2003137_lrg Mod

Peary Land, Greenland - The Image That Started My Search

On Sunday morning, while drinking my morning cup of coffee and checking my "usual websites", I came upon the above image of the northern shoreline of Greenland posted to NASA's Earth Observatory. I should have just kept right on moving, but I didn't. One image identified a point of land called Point Morris Jessup in the north center of the image. I decided that it would be loads of fun to check this part of the world out in more detail. About 8-hours worth of research, georectifying and jotting notes later and this is what I've learned . . .

Map Kaffeklubben Island Mod

Peary Land, Greenland - Kaffeklubben and Oodaag Islands

Aerial Image of Kaffeklubben Island Mod

Kaffeklubben Island

The Ultima Thule is an island. Explorers from the ancient Greeks to those within the last few years, have searched for the northernmost land, Ultima Thule. Within the last 100 years, modern explorers think they have found it located off the northern coast of Greenland. In 1900 Peary sighted Kaffeklubben Island, but never landed. A Danish explorer, Lauge Koch, landed and named this lichen splattered spot of land after a coffee bar located in a Danish museum. The above aerial photo shows an oblique view of the island. It turns out the northern tip of the island is 750-meters farther north then Cape Morris Jessup, making it the Ultima Thule.

2003 Ultima Thule Greenland in background

Oodaag Island - Ultima Thule?

That is until the above island, located 1360-meters north of Kaffeklubben Island, was located. Using aerial and satellite imagery, groups have pushed even farther north, by a few kilometers, finding more of these gravel bar islands.

(Before I move on I want to credit the source for the images, Arctic Thule. This site details the search for the northernmost land. It contains well written accounts of the latest efforts to identify the Ultima Thule.)

Here is my question - When is an island an island? Having mapped thousands over the past few years, I know that an island is a naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide (per Article 121, Part 8). Based on that definition, Kaffeklubben Island is an island, but Oodaag Island is not as it comes and goes. Seems that once found in the 70's it was lost for a number of years and only recently rediscovered. It would seem that these gravel bar constituted islands to the north of Kaffeklubben Island are gravel bars first and, at best, temporary islands at least.

And finally, curiosity. I have spent way too much time on this topic. It is time to get ready for school and a classroom of middle school students. And I think I'm curious. You ought to spend time with young people, their curiosity is insatiable.


No comments:

Post a Comment