Monday, July 30, 2007

Getting ready to head back once again...

Hey Folks. It's been quite a while since the last season- almost a year! Well, this year we're extending the project by a year, since the science technicians were able to get such good data last winter, so that we can collect 2 winters' worth of solid data.

For those of you just joining us, my current project aims to measure the compaction of the upper layers of the ice sheet at Summit and Raven camps in Greenland, and the seasonal changes in compaction rates. To do this, we send a video camera down a borehole once a month, using the images of the wall to track features in the borehole wall as they move from one month to the next.

A screenshot of my in-house software for analyzing a video log. The camera s looking straight down, and you can see the walls to the side (it's a very wide-angle lense). Clearly visible are the ice layers. This is from a borehole at Raven camp, where there is significant melt. Higher up on the ice sheet, at Summit, you wouldn't see such striking features, but with this post-processing software, we can resolve many features to track.

We do this in 4 boreholes each month throughout the year. I should point out that it's the Science Technicians who do the grunt work most of the year, braving the -60c temperatures which seem to penetrate clothing and make most any piece of equipment stop working. I travel to Summit and Raven each summer to repair the gear that's been broken, make improvements to the system based on feedback from the techs, make similar measurements at Raven, and train the new crew of science techs, who rotate out every 3 months.

Anyway, stay tuned, I leave Cambridge for Greenland on August 4, stopping for a night in Copenhagen on the way. See you again soon!