Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Made it back to Summit

We all arrived at Summit late last night, and enjoyed a delicious dinner of pasta, fresh baked bread, pudding, and a real salad! We're spending these few days unpacking everything and preparing for transport home. We'll keep the blog updated as we can, but at the moment we are too excited to see other people and shower.

Arriving at Summit with all of our sleds

The final shot of the GreenTrACS group at Summit

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Update June 14th, 2017: One snow mobile down, and the farthest north we've ever been

If you've been watching our snowmobile breadcrumb trackers, you might have noticed that we're now traveling with only four snowmobiles instead of five. We left Forrest's machine, which had limped along ever since Core 9, back at the cache at Core 12. Bob put in a valiant effort trying to fix the snowmobile, talking on the satellite phone with various mechanics in Greenland, Colorado, and Alaska, but every time we moved camps, it would work for a few kilometers and then sputter to a stop. All seemed well as Bob, Karina, and Forrest set out from Core 12 towards Core 13. Bob was even driving Forrest's snow mobile to make sure that it behaved, but five kilometers into the drive, the machine backfired and slowed to a stop. Bob tinkered with the snowmobile for a few minutes and it seemed to run properly again, but after another five kilometers, the machine died suddenly. Bob finally gave up, dragged the snow mobile back to the cache at Core 12, and left it there with a large piece of bamboo so that we can find it when we return with an airplane. Karina and Forrest enjoyed a nice cup of coffee while waiting for Bob to return! Figuring out the best way to transport five people with only four snow machines has been a fun puzzle. The simplest solution is to have someone ride behind a driver on one of the snowmobiles, but that isn't particularly relaxing for the passenger. First, Karina tried riding in Forrest's sleep pod behind a two-stroke snow mobile, but this was very unpleasant because of the exhaust from the snowmobile. We next built a chariot-like-seat on the science Komatic sled that we dragged behind one of the four-stroke snowmobiles. This was very comfortable, but the rider had to endure wads of snow flying up from the snowmobile track would melt on the passenger, making for a cold and wet ride. The best solution appears to be riding in Bob's polypod, which is both ventilated and dry. Bob took the first ride in the polypod on a camp move. We told him he should relax, maybe take a nap, but he ended up working the whole time. He said the ride was very comfortable but the bumps made it difficult for him to code on his laptop. We've collected data like madmen since our last blog post. We drilled ~30 meter-long cores at core sites 13, 14, and 15, collected hundreds of kilometers of radar data, and dug numerous snow pits. We've been able to do so much because, except for some strong winds, the weather has been extremely cooperative. The nice weather means that we can move camp one day, drill a core and drive a radar spur the next, drive a second spur and fix broken equipment the following day, and the move again the day after that. Spending only three days at each camp is exhausting, we're really happy to have made it so far. Earlier this week we made it to Core 14, our northern-most core at 73.8 latitude. For Gabe, Karina and Tate, this is the farthest north they have ever been, although Tate would like to mention that on his radar spur he went further north than either Karina or Gabe. We chose this site to revisit NASA-U, where scientists drilled an ice core there in the early 2000s. In addition, NASA-U is the site for an Automated Weather Station (AWS) maintained by the Greenland Climate Network (GCNet). We had a great afternoon visiting the AWS located just over a kilometer from camp. The AWS has sensors for air temperature, relative humidity, wind direction, wind speed, surface height, and albedo. Gabe took albedo measurements next to the AWS in the hopes of comparing his measurements to those on the AWS. We told the scientists who run GCNet that we were visiting the site and they asked us to download the data stored on the AWS. Bob had a fun time looking in the electrical box, extracting the data card, breaking Tate's data card reader, fixing Tate's data card reader, and then finally downloading all the AWS data since 2011. Core Site 15 is our second highest elevation site of the two-year traverse (the highest being Core Site 16). It was easy to see the impact of the higher elevation in this ice core - there were very few melt layers, melt pipes, or icy layers of firn. Karina thought this made the core very boring to log. But Erich Osterberg's response (via satellite text) was that a boring core is a good core. Karina's not sure she agrees, but concedes that it does make the drilling easier. Core 16 will probably be just as boring, but it will be the last core for the GreenTrACS project. It's hard to believe we have only one more Core Site left! We've been very lucky with our core collection so far, and so we only have two more empty boxes for storing the ice cores and only 10 more clean bottles for snow pit samples. As we're getting near the end of the trip, it's clear we have enough food to last us another month out on the ice sheet. It's always better to over pack when it comes to food, and it's really difficult to guess what and how much food people will want to eat on the ice. It's also interesting to compare our food patterns from last year. After the PopTart-fiasco of 2016 (see last year's PopTart themed blogpost for a detailed account), we all feared that PopTart consumption would be a divisive point between us. But alas, with a week left for this trip, dozens of PopTarts remain! We tend to only eat them on days when we move camp and forget about them every other day. Instead this year our divisive foods are hot chocolate and cheese. Last year, there were over a hundred packets of hot chocolate remaining at the end of the traverse. Even though we brought those packets along with us this year (and lots more new packets), we've been fighting about hot chocolate since camp at Core 10. We've found Forrest stashing bags of hot chocolate packets in his pod, but who can blame him [EDITOR'S NOTE: based on Gabe and Forrest's friendly pop-tart rivalry of 2016, the alleged 2017 hot chocolate stashing is at-best a one-sided narrative. We await Forrest's perspective]. With a week left, we only have about 10 packets... lets hope we make it to Summit soon. The consumption of all our cheese is both impressive and frightening. Gabe and Karina bought over 35 lbs of cheese for the traverse. There's only 4 lbs of cheese remaining, which means that since March 6th, each of us has eaten an average of 6+ lbs of cheese. That's more than a pound a week! Delicious. We thought we were going to have a shortage of powdered milk as well, but luckily we found more at our last cache. Tomorrow we'll move 100 km to Core 16, our farthest camp move yet. We'll plan to spend 2-3 days drilling, collecting albedo and radar data, and preparing for the 220 km journey back to Summit. Hopefully the Twin Otter plane will meet us at Summit June 18-19 so that we can pick up our buried ice core boxes, trash, empty fuel drums, and broken snowmobile that we've left scattered across the ice sheet. EDITOR'S NOTE: Forrest and Tate are also on the 2017 Traverse. Based on GreenTracs 2016, it can be assumed their constant hardwork prevents them from being featured in a blog post. A picture from 2016 is included below to honor their no-doubt exhausting efforts:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

May 30th Update: Repairs, Wind, and Record Breaking Core

It's been an eventful week on the Greenland Ice Sheet, with two separate camp moves, six beautiful radar surveys, a 27 m ice core at Core 11, and a whopping GreenTrACS record-breaking 32.5 m ice core at Core 12. The temperatures have been treating us kindly (highs around 20 F and lows in the single digits), but the relentless wind has barely dropped below 20 mph this whole week. We had a near-critical incident while setting up camp at Core 12, when a gust of wind picked up the erected-but-not-yet-staked-down Arctic Oven tent and began rolling it away. Gabe dove inside the vestibule to tackle the tent and hold it down while the rest of the team sprinted to the rescue. Luckily, we didnít tear the tent or break any poles during this gymnastics exercise. Tate helped drill his first ice core at Core 11. He was thrilled to finally see the melt layers and density contrasts that heís inferred with his radar system. Nearly every run he would exclaim, "wow, I'm holding a piece of ice thats been buried for 30 years!!", or something equally goofy. It's always a fun reminder that although some days seem cold and tedious, the science weíre doing is unique and exciting. We've noticed that the snow accumulation is much lower at Core 12 than the previous few locations, and that we see many more melt layers. It will be interesting to examine these ice cores in the lab back at Dartmouth when we don't have to worry about frostbite in our fingers and toes. Inspired by the ice coring, Tate excavated a 255 cm-deep pit on the western spur, looking for the depth of the previous summer's snow surface. This mega-pit took Tate, Bob, and Forrest several hours to dig and required an intermediate ledge to shovel snow all the way to the surface. Forrest's snowmobile has still been acting up. We've talked to mechanics in Kangerlussuaq, Colorado, and Alaska, but all weíve learned is that the problem instantly disappears whenever we call for help on the satellite phone. The issues reappear only when we try to drive the snowmobile far away from camp. On both the moves to Camp 10 and to Camp 11, the snowmobile started to back fire and die only a few kilometers out of camp. Forrest was forced to abandon his load, and the group had to return later with an empty sled to drag the broken-down machine the rest of the way. But every time we test the machine in camp, the snowmobile starts right up and runs great. Just when we thought the problem was solved, Gabe was using the snow mobile to measure albedo near Core 11. The snowmobile died a kilometer from camp, requiring him to dredge his was back to camp through knee-deep powder screaming obscenities that, luckily, no one could hear. Letís hope we can fix this problem soon! We've spent the past few days fixing broken equipment while the winds keep us in camp. We took the GSSI radar controller and survival bag out of a sled to remove the built-up snow and ice. As we were chipping basketball-size hunks of ice from the sled, we accidentally snapped the cable off one of the solar panels. We fixed the problem by drilling a few holes, soldering, and zip-tying it back together. We also discovered that one of the pins on a cable connecting Tate's multi-offset GPR was bent, but this problem was not as easy to solve. We've spent multiple hours on the phone with HP and the radar antenna engineers, but have yet to determine how to fix the problem. One positive of the stormy, windy weather is that it provides us the chance to make fun but time consuming meals. Dinner can get repetitive out here on the ice sheet with limited time and supplies. So whenever we get the chance we try to mix up the routine of spaghetti, mac and cheese, and burritos with something more original. Tate has claim to the most creative and delicious meal so far. He took a muskox filet, wrapped it up in a basket of bacon, fried it, and served the creation up with mash potatoes and green beans. We've also enjoyed pizza, baked ziti, and Nutella-frosted cupcakes on days when we have time to use the camp oven. We are officially past the halfway point of our traverse, measuring by time, number of ice cores, or distance. Despite the strong winds forecasted for the next week, we're excited to get to the next few core locations and keep collecting great data. Hopefully this time none of our tents will try to fly away!

Monday, June 5, 2017

May 25 Update. Bob Hawley Arrives: The Curse of the PI

On May 16th, we were visited by a twin otter plane from Kangerlussuaq. The plane was carrying PI (Principal Investigator) Bob Hawley, who would be joining us for the remainder of the traverse. Forrest and HP groomed a skiway with their snow mobiles and fuel sleds so that the plane could land despite the soft, sastrugi-covered surface. We each gave Bob a big hug once he disembarked from the plane. Bob and PI HP had a brief five minutes to chat and high five before HP had to hop on the plane and fly back to Kangerlussuaq en route to Copenhagen, New York, and finally back to Boise, Idaho. We were sad to see HP go, but our loneliness was dampened by Bob's delivery of pepperoni pizza and fresh bananas! Unfortunately, the bananas were still green from the store in Kanger, having been shipped from Columbia many weeks prior. Before they could ripen, the bananas froze overnight. Poor Tate was so sad to only get to eat one unripe banana before they turned to black, sweaty mush.

An Icelandair Twin Otter delivers PI Bob Hawley and picks up PI HP Marshall at Core 9.
The orange "Polypod" that Bob now makes his home is in the foreground.

On the day of Bob's arrival, Gabe and Karina were busy drilling Core 9. The drilling was going smoothly when Bob offered to help. Bob has participated in numerous drilling projects all over the polar regions throughout the years and so Karina and Gabe were excited to have his help. However, they forgot to consider the curse of the PI: that the arrival of a PI in the field often instigates a cascade of field equipment destruction. Gabe was just about to start drilling and offered the drill to Bob. Standing on the side of the pit, Bob grabbed the drill, secured his stance, and started the powerful drill. Instantly, the electrical cord whipped around as the drill spun. Somehow the cord became tangled in the drill and yanked wires loose from their coupling! Bob immediately stopped drilling as Gabe pulled the cord out of the generator to avoid electrocution. The wiring of the cord was completely ripped out of the drill, but appeared to be repairable! Luckily, Bob was just as skilled at fixing the drill as he was at breaking it. We were back drilling within an hour. We finished Core 9 with over 27 meters of ice, which should overlap with a PARCA core drilled at that location in 1998.

T'Ocho (Tate) with a couple of mean looking bananas. 

The following three days were so snowy, warm, and windy that we couldn't collect any data or move to Core 10. On the first day, we were excited at the chance to sleep in and eat a leisurely breakfast of pancakes and bacon. We salvaged some of the mushy black bananas for banana Nutella pancakes, which are more delicious than they sound when submerged with real Vermont maple syrup. We spent that afternoon processing data, fixing instruments, and relaxing while listening to the BBC. We spent the next two days in a similar fashion. Since leaving Summit, the 400 MHz radar antenna hadn't been working properly, so we became determined to fix it before leaving Core 9. Bob and Gabe spent the storm days testing various configurations of control units, antennas, cables, and antenna placements. For each test they would turn on the instruments, drive 1 km away from camp and back, download the data onto a hard drive, load the data on a laptop, process the data and look at the radar quality.

1. SIR30 with Dartmouth's 400 MHz (old long black cable) and 900 MHz (new long black cable)
2. SIR30 with CRREL's 400 MHz (old long black cable) and 900 MHz (new long black cable)
3. SIR4000 with Dartmouth's 400 MHz (old long black cable)
4. SIR4000 with CRREL's 400 MHz (old long black cable)
5. Looks like our antenna is not broken after all! What in the world is broken?
6. SIR4000 with 900 MHz (new long black cable)
7. SIR4000 with 900 MHz (old long black cable)
8. Maybe the old black cable is broken! How can we avoid using it?
9. SIR4000 with Dartmouth's 400 MHz (new short blue cable) and SIR30 with 900 MHz (new black cable)
10. This works! But we don't want to run two separate control units
11. SIR30 with Dartmouth's 400 MHz (short blue cable) only
12. SIR30 with 900 MHz (new long black cable) only
13. SIR30 with Dartmouth's 400 MHz (short blue cable) and 900 MHz (new long black cable) in the middle of the sled
14. SIR30 with Dartmouth's 400 MHz (short blue cable) and 900 MHz (new long black cable) at the front of the sled
15. This works! Let's keep it that way!

May 18th was Gabe's 26 birthday, his second birthday in a row spent on the ice sheet. We celebrated with pizza and a homemade chocolate cake that Karina baked in the Coleman camp oven.  He was excited to be surrounded by so many wonderful people, but is looking forward to spending his next birthday in a warmer climate, maybe Hawaii? (Advisor's comment: maybe the library working on a paper? I'll bring a cake...)

Happy Birthday Gabe!! Next year, Hawaii (or the library - we'll see)

By the end of the storm, all our tents were buried by meter-high snow drifts. It took us a full day to dig out the tents and sleds. Bob spent the afternoon mounting his surface roughness laser onto the polypod, a sleeping and storage pod that Bob uses instead of a tent. This laser measures the distance between the laser and snow, which gives an indication of surface roughness and the size of sastrugi, to ground truth surface elevation measured from satellites.

We finally left Core Site 9 on May 22nd. Bob and Tate took off early to start collecting radar and laser data along the 100 km route to Core Site 10. But when Forrest, Karina, and Gabe tried to leave an hour later, Forrest's snowmobile would not move. The snowmobile would backfire and jerk forward for a minute, then slowly die. Forrest tried adding ethanol to the fuel (to bond with any water/ice that might be interfering with the fuel injection) and replaced the machine's spark plugs. But after a half hour of tinkering, there was no improvement in the snowmobile. Instead of driving all the way to Core site 10 that day, we decided to stop halfway so that we could shuttle Forrest's snowmobile and sleds forward. Karina and Gabe left Forrest with a survival bag, his sleep pod, and some food before driving 50 km to meet up with Bob and Tate. There, Karina and Gabe set up a
hasty camp while Bob and Tate drove back to Core site 9 to pick up Forrest and his gear. The whole way back to "hasty camp", Forrest rode in his pod and napped like a princess.

That evening at hasty camp, Bob and Forrest repaired Forrest's snowmobile. As Karina, Gabe, and Tate prepared for a slumber party in the Arctic Oven, they were visited by a small, finch-like bird. We were sad to see the little bird so far into the ice sheet, nearly 200 miles from the closest grass or open water. The bird flew into our vestibule and perched on top of the tent under the fly. As we were starting to drift off to sleep, the bird flew through the vent in the roof of the tent and landed on Gabe's sleeping bag! The bird was probably happy to find the warmest spot on the ice sheet for hundreds of kilometers, and Gabe was ecstatic to finally have someone to cuddle with. Eventually we got the bird out of the tent, but we could not convince it to leave the vestibule. The little bird stayed with us until we left the following morning. Forrest's heart broke when he found the bird sitting on his parka and had to shoo it away.

A bird takes refuge with the GreenTrACS team at "Hasty Camp".

We finally made it to Core 10 on May 23rd. A few inches of fresh snow and low winds smoothed out the surface of the ice sheet, making for easy snowmobiling but not enough to get our snowmobiles stuck. The conditions were what Tate would call "fluff kitten". The following day Tate and Forrest set off on the eastern radar spur while Karina and Gabe drilled Core 10. That morning, Bob had managed to whack the new laser box with the FMCW radar mount on his snow mobile, seemingly obliterating the instrument. Luckily the laser was undamaged, but the pelican case holding the laser was shattered. Once again, we were struck by the curse of the PI. Bob spent the day gluing the pelican case back together, rewiring the laser's motherboard, and testing the laser with what appeared to be a Hoki-Poki dance from far away.

A cache of fuel, food and ice core boxes waiting for the team. What a welcome sight!

Despite the setback with the laser, the day was a big success. Karina and Gabe drilled another 27 m ice core, bringing their season total to 85 meters and the GreenTrACS project total to ~275 m. Tate collected awesome radar data along the eastern spur, both GSSI radar antennas worked perfectly, and Bob remounted his slightly battered (but still fully functional!) laser onto the polypod.

Bob works to mount the laser to the polypod. Slick setup.

Today (Thurs the 25th), Bob, Forrest, and Tate drove out towards the western spur. This is probably one of the most important radar spurs of the season, as the spur traverses into the region of Bob's Validation Experiment for Swath Processed Altimetry (VESPA) grid. During the 2014 season, Bob and several students helicoptered to and from the ice sheet to precisely measure the elevation of the ice sheet at several locations to ground truth the IceSAT satellite. Bob has been eager to return to these locations to remeasure the surface elevation and compare with various satellites to (hopefully) validate their calculations.

Tomorrow we plan to head to Core 11. We are trying to take advantage of the nice weather to collect as much data as possible before the next storm. Hopefully we will have another completed ice core collected before the end of the week!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Getting in the GreenTrACS Groove!

It was a big milestone to finally arrive at Core 8, after traveling over 400 km from Summit, and setting up and breaking down camp every night.  The GreenTrACS team could now start the routine work of coring, radar, pits, and the luxury of staying in the same camp for 3-4 nights at a time at each core site. Below are some pictures from Core 8, the trip back to Core 7 for the fuel cache, and work at Core 9.  The GreenTrACS team is really getting in the groove!

Karina and Gabe were chomping at the bit to get drilling, and promptly drilled over 30 meters in 2 days at Core 8!  These two are an amazing drill team.

Snowpit at Core 7.  Rubber mallet was key for slamming in the density cutter without damaging equipment.
The fuel barrels that the team left from the 2016 traverse at Core 7 were still there - 75+ gallons of fuel, yay!

Karina made some amazing cornbread in the Coleman oven, what a treat after our trip to Core 7 and back in 2 days.
HP getting way too excited about another snowpit.

Forrest checking in with base camp in Kangerlusuaq via sat phone.

FMCW 6-18 GHz radar (left) and multi-offset 500MHz and 1 GHz radar systems (right).  The FMCW radar system provides <1cm resolution of the upper 10 meters, while the unique multi-offset radar systems provide independent density and snow layer thickness estimates in the upper 20-30 meters.

The sastrugi was beautiful, but very hard on equipment.  Lots of wear and tear on the radar systems, and the polypod loved to auger into these larger drifts...we got lots of practice digging it out and getting snowmobiles unstuck.

Karina sampling snow chemistry at Core 8.
Gabe collecting a temperature profile in the snowpit and preparing to sample at Core 9.

Tate photographing the snowpit wall at Near-InfraRed (NIR) wavelengths.  These wavelengths are most sensitive to grain size, and provide a record of the snow stratigraphy.  The stiff brush in the foreground is also very helpful for finding wind and sun crusts in last winter's snowpack.
Hawaiian shirt night for HP's last dinner before leaving the ice sheet.  What a great group of snow geeks!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

May 14 Update: Summit to Core 8!

Greetings from the middle of the Greenland Ice Sheet! This is our first deep field post for the 2017 traverse.

On May 6th, 2017 the GreenTrACS team finally departed Summit Station, beginning the science of the second field season of the Greenland Traverse for Accumulation and Climate Studies.  Years of preparation, a week in Kangerlussuaq, and nearly a week at Summit, and we were finally on our way!
Five snowmobiles, 10 sleds, 2 pods, 4 radar systems, gear for 8 weeks of camping, cooking, crevasse rescue, and fixing everything that breaks.  The team was excited to finally have everything packed and get on the road (photo: Grey Davis).
GreenTrACS team before departing Summit Station, Greenland.  From right to left: Karina Graeter, Gabe Lewis, Tate Meehan, Forrest McCarthy, and Hans-Peter Marshall (photo:Grey Davis).
Over the next five days, we travelled 440 km to Core Site 8, the first ice core location this year. We designed our course to follow a few IceBridge lines, and we took radar measurements the whole way. Because we were moving camp every day, we only set up one 12x12 ft Arctic Oven to use as a cook/science/sleep/charging tent. Things were a bit crowded, to say the least. Packing up and moving everyday was extremely exhausting, and we didn't have any personal space/time while we were moving to Core 8.

Hauling heavy loads from Summit to Core 8
During the third day, a storm dumped 10-12 inches of light, fluffy snow on our camp. The wind that night shaped the snow into giant sastrugi, which made our snowmobiling extremely bumpy and unpleasant the next few days. Our snowmobiles and sleds sunk into the thick, soft snow. Everyone got stuck at least once, and we had to dig out the heavy sleds and tow each other out of the piles of powder. When we finally reached Core site 8 on May 10th, we were all extremely happy to set up a real camp and have a bit more space to spread out. Plus, we didn't all have to listen to each other snoring all night!

Beautiful sastrugi after the big storm - lots of fresh powder!!

At Core Site 8, we dug a 1m deep pit to collect snow samples and analyze the snow stratigraphy. HP led a snowpit lesson (he's a snowpit master), while Gabe collected albedo and optical grain size measurements. Afterwards, Karina and Gabe drilled a 30.2 m ice core and placed the core segments into 3 ice core boxes to be transported back to Dartmouth.

Typical field camp: Core 8 Drill Site.
Tate and HP collected radar data along a 30 km spur to the west. Tate's multi-offset radar system seems to be working great, despite the bumps and fresh snow, while HP's FMCW radar is much improved from last year.  They are also running the Dartmouth Engineering Department's GSSI radar system, which is completely solar powered and can run both the 900 and 400 MHz systems simultaneously.

The team at the Core 8 drill site - still looking spy after their long slog from Summit.

Upon arriving at Camp 8, we saw two kite skiers making their way towards our camp. Max and Ulrikke (who we had actually met in Kanger) had kited 11 days and nearly 400 km from Kanger and somehow managed to see our bright yellow kitchen tent among the endless white ice sheet. We offered them hot tea and were thrilled to see their kit skiing setup, hear stories of their sailing adventures all over Europe, and learn a bit about competitive kite skiing. After a few days of rough sastrugi and tiring kiting, they were very grateful to have a place to sit and rest. The wind was forecasted to completely die the next day, so they set up camp nearby and offered to help us cook dinner and dig a snowpit in exchange for much needed company. They even offered to give Gabe a kite skiing lesson (something he's always wanted to try), but were unable to fulfill that offer because a) he just had brain surgery 2 months ago and everyone said that it was a pretty stupid idea to try it this far from a hospital, b) there was no wind to fly the kite.

Karina with a beautiful homemade pizza from the camp oven.

Today HP, Tate, and Forrest are snowmobiling back to Core 7 (the last core site from the 2016 traverse) to collect the weather station and extra fuel we left last year. Miraculously, the weather station seems to have survived the winter and somehow collected hourly data since last June. None of the fuel leaked out of the barrels, so we'll definitely have enough gas to get to Cache 1 later this week.

HP, Tate and Forrest ready for their run to Core 7 to get last year's remaining fuel 
and a weather station that's been recording data for the past year.

We heard that 10-15 congressmen and the head of the National Science Foundation were visiting Kangerlussuaq and Summit Station this week, but we were surprised to hear that they wanted to fly over our camp to see what we were working on. They circled overhead a few times as we waved up to the plane, hoping to make a good impression with our tidy camp and covered snowmobiles.

NSF and Congressional Delegation overfly the Greentracs camp at Core 8.

We plan to move camp to Core site 9 on May 15th. The next day, we will be visited by a twin otter plane that will drop off Bob Hawley and pick up HP. Bob is taking over HP's role for the remainder of the traverse. We will be very sad to see HP go, but we are also a bit jealous of the warm showers and fresh veggies HP will soon enjoy in Kangerlussuaq.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Summit Storms and Work

We've spent the past few days huddled up in the Big House hiding from the storm that ripped through Greenland, with temperatures dipping to -14 F and winds up to 40 knots. Luckily, all of our tents held up and we managed not to lose anything in the wind or under the drifting snow. During Condition 1 weather no one is allowed to travel alone outside, we radio the camp manager each time we're leaving or arriving at a location, and no one can leave the station without a GPS, radio, and emergency beacon.


The Summit Science crew allowed us to use some space inside the Summit Operations Building to prepare our radar sleds and mount various GPS antennas to our snowmobiles. Being allowed to work inside saved us a few days while waiting out the nasty weather. Big thanks to the operations crew!

HP mounts the Frequency Modulated Continuous Waveform radar and GPS to his snowmobile

Tate sets up his Multi-Offset radar in the operations building

HP launches a weather balloon to monitor the temperature, humidity, and wind speed near Summit 

Once the weather cleared, we spent Thursday and Friday building our sleds, organizing our cache loads, and testing the radar equipment. The Twin Otter plane is supposed to spend Saturday and Sunday dropping off ice core boxes, extra food, snowmobile gas, and propane to four locations along our route.

Our "kitchen sled" komatik sled loaded up and ready to move to Core 8

One of our fuel sleds towing the empty ice core boxes

Caches 2 and 3 staged near the runway awaiting the airplane

HP and Tate admire the two radar sleds after their test drive near Summit

After setting up all the sleds and testing the equipment, we were able to to get a tour of the Temporary Atmospheric Watch Observatory. Located 1/2 mile south of the Big House (in the clean air sector), the TAWO measures temperature, wind speed, humidity, incoming radiation, atmospheric black carbon, and other particulates floating around in the air. We walked past the GISP2 borehole, which was one of the main reasons Summit Camp was established in the 1990's. GISP2 drilled down 3053 m through the ice sheet and into the bed rock, the deepest ice core ever recovered at the time. After dinner, Gabe gave a 20 minute science lecture on preliminary results from the 2016 GreenTrACS traverse and our plans for the upcoming traverse.

Gabe gives a science lecture in the Big House wearing his formal Carhartts

Gabe hugs the GISP2 borehole

The Temporary Atmospheric Watch Observatory