Monthly Archives: August 2014

Sunrise…Sunset

At 72 degrees North, Summit is within the Arctic Circle. The sun doesn’t set for much of the summer, however since the Solstice on June 21, it’s slowly been sinking lower during the night. At the Poles the sun circles with almost no change in degree above the horizon between noon and midnight. Here we’re 18 degrees from the Pole so it follows an ellipse, sinking closer to the horizon in the night and swinging high into the sky during the day. While it still isn’t getting quite dark enough to see stars it’s definitely becoming dusky.

Today the sun rose at 3:27am and will set at 9:41pm, though it stays fairly bright throughout. Here’s a good page to check out for more information on weather and such: Summit Almanac and Weather. The nights are getting longer by 12 minutes each day!

Untitled

A chart showing sunrise and sunset times for our coordinates.

To make your own chart by either your city or latitude and longitude check out this page.

ad

5pm Aug 21 at Summit

adf

Sunset on Aug 14 at 10:15pm

The shop at

The shop at midnight on Aug 20

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Arctic, Greenland, Summit Station

Summit Science!

As in Antarctica, our purpose in Greenland is science – primarily climate research. Summit Station was first established in 1989 to support the Greenland Ice Sheet Project Two (GISP2) ice core and has since become a leading arctic station supporting a wide variety of seasonal and long term projects.

Summit was chosen for its location at the summit of the Greenland ice sheet. Some facts: There are two ice sheets on earth, one in Antarctica and one in Greenland, and as they are near the poles we call them ice caps. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC – based in Denver) an ice sheet is defined as a “mass of glacial land ice extending more than 50,000 square kilometers (20,000 square miles).”  Glaciated areas less than 20,000sq mi are called ice fields – such as the Patagonia ice field, or the Juneau ice field.
Ice sheets and ice fields are incredibly important to climate research as they are not only highly sensitive to global temperature changes but provide a physical archive of the atmosphere going back as long as the ice has been there. The water molecules of the snow/ice itself contain isotopes that correlate to average global temperatures and between these molecules, bound by the ice, are tiny trapped air bubbles – discrete samples of atmospheric gases. This is one way scientists can measure carbon dioxide (CO2) levels over past millennia. The Vostok ice core for example, provided data on the climate going back over 400,000 years. The European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) ice core goes back 800,000 years. CO2 levels are of particular interest to climate scientists as there is a direct correlation between global temperature and CO2 in the atmosphere. Over the past 400,000 years CO2 levels in our atmosphere have fluctuated between 180-280ppm. Since the Industrial Revolution and large scale burning of fossil fuels those levels have continued to rise. Right now we are close to 400 ppm. (check out http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/ for recent levels) The US Environmental Protection Agency has a great website with information on greenhouse gasses and carbon dioxide, trends in the US, and ways to reduce emissions: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/co2.html.

The GISP2 borehole in 2011

The GISP2 borehole in 2011.

The GRIP borehole 28km from Summit Station

The 1989-1992 European Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP) borehole 28km from Summit Station

GRIP Ice cores at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark

GRIP Ice cores at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark

Annual layers are visible in the cut GRIP cores (U. of Copenhagen)

Annual layers are visible in the cut GRIP cores (U. of Copenhagen)

Greenland Ice core sites

File:Vostok Petit data.svg

A graph showing CO2 levels from an ice core (Vostok, Antarctica). Our current atmospheric CO2 levels are off this chart.

While the GISP2 ice core was completed over 20 years ago, Summit continues to provide valuable data. As one of NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratories the Greenland Environmental Observatory (GEOSummit) provides long term monitoring of the Arctic environment and atmosphere.  Much of climate research relies on these trends and long term variations to distinguish climate change from variable weather patterns. TAWO (Temporary Atmospheric Weather Observatory) houses a suite of instruments collecting continuous measurements of a number of greenhouse gasses including carbon dioxide, tropospheric ozone, and black carbon among others. Summit’s science techs launch ozone sondes weekly to measure upper atmosphere ozone and collect air samples twice monthly to be processed for trace gases. Once a month the science techs complete a GPS survey (IceSAT) for CryoSat – providing calibration data for a European Space Agency satellite measuring ice thickness around the globe.

Some other long term projects here at Summit include: ICECAPS (Integrated Characterization of Energy, Clouds, Atmospheric state, and Precipitation at Summit) which is studying the atmosphere, clouds, and precipitation. Today a third station science tech position has been added to focus primarily on the ICECAPS instruments. BSI (Biospherical Instruments) is monitoring ultraviolet radiation. GEOFON has a seismometer buried away from camp as part of a global network. A magnetometer has also recently been installed to measure geomagnetic variations in central Greenland.
This season a new intermediate ice core drill was tested near Summit. The proposed project will drill a 1,500m ice core at the South Pole Station in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. More information on this project can be found here and on the official SPICE Core site.
The complete list of currently funded projects is publicly available on the Arctic Field Projects site.

Some other interesting links:
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/obop/sum/
http://nsidc.org/cryosphere/quickfacts/icesheets.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_core
http://www.gisp2.sr.unh.edu/

During the summer of 2011 I was one of two station Science Technicians at Summit.  We monitored and maintained the long term research equipment on station, trouble shooting and repairing as needed. We also assisted with launching weather balloons and ozone sondes and collecting various samples for projects. A typical day included doing rounds to clear meteorological equipment of snow/ice/frost/rime, cleaning lenses collecting data on solar radiation with ethanol, backing up data or sending it via email to researchers at their home institutions, collecting air and snow samples, measuring accumulation rates, launching weather balloons, conducting GPS surveys, and assisting around the station as needed. Here are a few pictures of Summit science techs in action…

Launching a weather balloon in April 2011

Launching a weather balloon in April 2011

Measuring accumulation rates at Summit

One of the 2010 techs measuring accumulation rates at Summit

Radiometers measuring solar radiation and albedo

Radiometers measuring solar radiation and albedo

Bundled up for IceSAT

Bundled up for IceSAT – GPS equipment is in the red “Poly Pod” behind me, the survey takes several hours and is done once a month.

Leveling the seismometer

Leveling the seismometer

Cleaning rime off a tower

Conducting maintenance on the 50m “Swiss Tower”

Cleaning rime off the TAWO tower

Cleaning rime off the TAWO tower instruments

Air sampling flasks!

Crates of  air sampling flasks!

Inflating a balloon

Inflating a balloon in the S.O.B.

???????????????????????????????

Launching an ozone sonde to collect data on the upper atmosphere ozone layer

3 Comments

Filed under Arctic, Greenland, Science!, Summit Station

Heavy Lifting

Establishing and maintaining a long-term station on an ice sheet raises unique challenges for engineering and construction and with over a mile of ice beneath us it’s a constant battle to keep surface structures unburied. The South Pole faces similar issues, but the issue there is primarily drifting, thus the aerodynamic shape. At Summit it’s not only drifting, but also the issue of roughly a meter of snow accumulation annually. To deal with this issue there are several ideas in use: some buildings are on skis and can be dragged around the station with heavy equipment, others are modular and can be moved every few years to a berm which will gradually be buried, a few instruments are buried in vaults, and many are seasonal – simply taken down and put on a berm for winter to be set up come summer.
The Big House and TAWO however, utilize an “infinite leg” system. The buildings are raised up on stilts, or legs, and can slide up as the snow level, or grade, rises. Once they reach the top of the legs another section can be welded on and the process continues. Let me say at this point that this is not quite as easy as it sounds…but it does work and it’s pretty awesome!

The Big House is essentially a double wide trailer with the kitchen, a large refrigerator, a scullery, a bathroom with a shower and a toilet stall, the manager’s office and comms, and large common space that’s used as a dining and living room. There are lots of windows and it’s quite homey. Beneath the building, in the area scoured clear by the wind moving under the structure, there is a wide metal hatch leading down to the freezer trench where all dry and frozen food is stored. With the accumulation rate at about a meter a year, the Big House is raised every two years. During my first year up here (2010) they welded on new leg extensions and raised the building. They raised it again in 2012 and now again in 2014. The hollow, square, steel legs have holes drilled through them every ~6inches. The building rests on a set of 3/4in steel bolts that run through the holes on each leg. BHJacks2014bSmall platforms are bolted to the legs below the building. When it’s time to raise the building hydraulic jacks are securely bolted to each of the smaller platforms. The jacks are connected to a manifold which regulates the hydraulic pressure across all the jacks – the system has a lifting capacity of about 120,000lbs. The jacks lift the building just enough to take the weight and then the upper bolts (or pins) can be manually removed. Once those are all removed the building is resting on the jacks and the lower platforms. It can then be raised to the next set of holes where the pins are replaced, slowly inching its way up 4-6 feet. TAWO is designed in much the same way, but a bit smaller in scale.

Here are some photos from 2010 and 2014:

The Big House encrusted with frost and snow in April 2010

The Big House encrusted with frost and snow in April 2010

The Big House in April 2010

The Big House in April 2010

The kitchen

The kitchen

The scullery

The scullery

The common living/dining room

The common living/dining room

BHlegs2010

The Big House with one set of new legs in 2010

Raising the Big House in 2010

Raising the Big House in 2010

BHRaise2014

The Big House being raised in 2014

One of the jacks in place

One of the jacks in place

The hydraulic lines all hooked up

The hydraulic lines all hooked up

The Big House at it current height

The Big House at it current height

TAWO in 2011

TAWO in 2011

The midnight sun on Aug 2

The midnight sun on Aug 2

1 Comment

Filed under Arctic, Greenland, Summit Station