|Tate starting to snowmobile in Idaho|
Meehan, who is in the first year of his master’s program in geophysics, is headed to a research expedition on Greenland. He’ll be joined by Forrest McCarthy, a mountaineering guide from the Wilderness Wildland Alliance and National Science Foundation Polar Programs, Dartmouth polar geoscientist Erich Osterberg, and Dartmouth doctoral students Gabe Lewis and Thomas Overly.
The combined Boise State and Dartmouth research team will study and measure snowfall amounts over the past 50 years in an area that contains some of the largest snowfall variances on the Greenland ice sheet. This expedition comes at a precarious time; in recent weeks Greenland’s early melting season, brought on by unseasonably warm weather, has some global researchers concerned.
“This trip is especially critical this year as Greenland has experienced the warmest first four months on average in its recorded history, which dates back to the 1870s. It’s the onset of melting that has happened about two months ahead of schedule that makes our job a lot more challenging,” Meehan said.
|The view from our test site in Idaho|
During the seven-week expedition, the research team will travel by snowmobile and live in tents. In addition to mapping new areas for measurement, they will also revisit multiple Program for Artic Regional Climate Assessment (PARCA) sites. PARCA was launched by NASA in 1993 with the primary goal of measuring and understanding the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet.
|Towing radar equipment with a snowmobile|
This research continues previous work in Greenland conducted by Marshall and Bradford. Bradford’s radar inversion work completed with Boise State doctorate student Joel Brown and University of Montana glaciologist Joel Harper will be applied to the radar data collected during this research trip. Marshall conducted radar measurements in 2010 and built a radar system used for a traverse from the summit to Thule Air Base.
The research being conducted during this trip and the subsequent trip next year holds significant relevance for the future of the planet and research into climate change.
“This project is important, because we don’t know much about the snowfall amounts in this area,” Marshall explained. “The snowfall in this area is changing and controls the behavior of a large part of the ice sheet. The behavior of the ice sheet is important because it is the major contribution to global sea level rise, and affects global climate.”