Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Packing up, hopefully flying out!

Today was a day of packing boxes, getting things ready to be shipped back to Dartmouth. By the middle of the day, we'd gotten our gear all packed and "palletized" which means that it's strapped down to an aluminum Air Force pallet, the basic unit of cargo on the LC-130 aircraft on which we fly. Above, our cargo sits ready on its pallet, waiting for the plane! Once this was done, our team joined the GA pool. GA is short for General Assistant, which means doing odd jobs around camp to help out. Our task was to re-set some flags marking hazardous areas around camp. Job almost complete, we'll work on it more tomorrow while waiting for a plane!

Monday, June 21, 2010

FInal pit of this trip

Weather today was beautiful, and we started early to help Gifford with his last melt experiment pit of the season. In addition, it was Gifford's turn to "house mouse" (see my post from 2006 about this duty), so I worked on many of his chores while he worked the pit, since this is really his experiment. Above, Gifford cleans the pit wall to prepare for visible and NIR photographs to view stratigraphy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Stormy day

No pits of today, as it was really too stormy to do much work outside. But we could still look at our data, and repackage our ice cores, which we did. Long day spent mostly indoors.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

More pits!

Today we dug another pit at a location we call ICESat-Center. This particular pit is the last in a series of pits that Zoe dug while on the traverse from NEEM to Summit. Above, Zoe teaches Gifford the finer points of recording physical stratigraphy in the pit.

Friday, June 18, 2010

More GPS surveying

Today the winds were pretty high, so it would have been difficult to dig a pit (it would fill in almost as fast as you could dig it out). I spent much of the day working with the science techs, going over the protocol for the GPS surveying they do each month (I posted about this surveying a while ago here). Before we went out, I placed a standalone GPS station (above) to record a very accurate measure of one spot along the transect. This way we can test out other GPS receiver on the sled- processed kinematically- to see how close it gets to the "real" answer for he surface elevation. Despite the high winds, the whole thing went off beautifully, and I came back with many modifications to make to the sampling protocol, a document that outlines exactly the procedures to take for this experiment.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chemistry sampling in the pits

Today was another long one. We performed a melt experiment for Gifford, who wants to look at how chemical signals in the snowpack may be alteredin the presence of melt. The day started out at 5, getting up to be out on our snowmachines (loaded, fueled, with some food in us, ready to go) by 6. Gifford and I went out to our site and applied some "artificial melt", snow that he had collected from this site the night before and melted inside the heated structure. Then, since we needed to give the melt time to percolate and refreeze before we sampled, we came back to camp for breakfast. Following that, we went back out and dug a large pit, took near infrared photographs to record the stratigraphy, and collected snow samples to be analyzed for chemistry- one set where melt had been applied, one set in an unaffected region. Above, Gifford and I sample in tandem. It was a long process- we "broke ground" on the pit at around 10 am, and were filling it back in after we'd finished our work around 5pm. We arrived back in camp after dinner around 7:30, ready for a nice hot meal.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

North Winds and IT issues

This morning we woke up at 5, ready to head out to our site for another melt pit, but when I got out of my tent to walk to the Big House, I noticed we had winds from the North, which means no motorized travel- we were stuck in camp for at least the morning.

In some ways this was lucky, as Summit had been experiencing some network problems for the last day or so, and this allowed me to help troubleshoot them. It's a complex system, with a central server and wireless bridges to 10 other structures on station. Troubleshooting took me, Lana the Science tech, Andreas from another science group, and Andrew Young, on the phone from California and also logged in remotely. We finally traced the problem to a faulty ethernet switch, and when we replaced that, we had fixed the problem. This took most of the day, but as the winds were from the North all day, we were stuck in "town" anyway...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

GPS surveying

Today was another long day, getting out to survey the area we are using for satellite altimetry validation. Above, the route we drove with the GPS running. We had a false start when our base-station GPS acted up, but managed to get back out and running by early afternoon. Of course, this meant that we would be having another late night, since we had a finite amount of GPS surveying to do. By the end of it, we were ready to get inside!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Melt percolation experiment

Today was a long day. Up at 5, Gifford and I left camp at 6 to spread artificially-induced melt over a small area to see if we can determine the effects of melt on the chemistry of the remaining snow- does melt percolation preferentially transport certain chemical species? After we spread the artificial melt, we needed to wait for a while for it to do its thing, so we came back to the camp for breakfast. Unfortunately while we were there, the winds started to come in from the North, meaning no travel on snowmachines. So we were stuck back in camp for a long time waiting for the winds to change. We busied ourselves helping the crew prepare for another core to be drilled for another investigator. When the winds finally shifted for us, we took off, but the sampling in the pit took a long time and we ended up arriving back in camp around midnight. Above, Gifford excavates the pit.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Checking out the GRIP casing

Today I led a group of 8 folks on a trip to visit the site of another deep ice core, GRIP (A European project contemporary with GISP2). It's about 30 km from Summit, so we had a little drive to get there. My agenda there was simple- measure exactly how much casing still protrudes from the snow (it's 102 cm, in case you are interested). It was a nice, uneventful trip, and all went well. This evening, I gave a Sunday Science lecture to an engaged audience, which was really nice. Tomorrow morning is an early start to work on Gifford's melt experiment.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

BOS logging of Owen, setting up thermocouples

Today was a long day- mainly in the office constructing a set of thermocouple strings and programming the datalogger to measure them for Gifford's melt experiment. Then after dinner we headed out to install the thrmocouple strings and log the Owen boerhole with BOS (we decided to name our core Owen, after our collaborator's new baby boy). It turned into a late night, but the light was beautiful with the sun at a low angle.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Packing up, on to the next task!

Today we started out by packing up the drill out at the site, and bringing it back, ready for its next tasking, which will be to drill another hole near camp for another experiment. We, however, will be moving on to our next tasks, which involve borehole logging, digging pits, and GPS surveying (more on these later). As I was walking through camp, I saw the Norwegians about to launch their Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), so I stopped to see how it went. They are testing the UAV for albedo measurements over the ice sheets. Above, the pilot readies the UAV for launch.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Finished drilling!

Today we finally finished our 100 meter core. We had a few drill runs in the morning where we were having trouble penetrating, but changing the cutters helped. In the end, our driller Terry reports the following statistics for our drilling operation:

975 minutes of total drilling time (16 & 1/4 hrs) over 3.5 days total site time.
101 runs = with an average of 10.5 minutes per run.
Depth of 10255 cm = an average of 101.5 cm per run

Special thanks to Zach and Dorothy who came along and gave us an extra hand.

Now it's on to the next activities...

Another full day

No photos from today's drilling, because I was in the clean suit all day, processing core. So I wasn't able to pull out the camera for any shots. But we had another successful day of drilling, reaching 85 meters by the end of the day. Fingers crossed for finishing the hole tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

More drilling!

More drilling today! That's about all we did, really, spent the full day out drilling. Above, I hold the drill barrel as Terry tests the motor in preparation for a drilling run. We cranked through the drilling today, reaching a depth of 65 meters, and filling over 4 boxes of core. These are now down in a freezer trench underneath the Big House, where they will stay until it is time to fly them to our lab in Hanover.

Monday, June 07, 2010


Lots of progress today. Having staged most of our equipment out at the drill site yesterday, we went out this morning to build up the drill and get started drilling. We had a very successful day, getting the drill put together by early afternoon, and even drilling 20 meters of core by the end of the day! Above, Terry, our driller, tends to the controls of the drill. The very top of the drill can be seen as it descends into the hole. Below, Gifford strikes a pose in his Tyvek clean suit. We wear clean suits and clean gloves to handle the core, to avoid contamination from our clothing.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

First data of the season!

A great day today. We brought the rest of our drilling equipment out to the drill site, and got the drill partially assembled. Also, I went along with Liz Morris and her assistant Martin, and we established a new site for science- ICESat-Center. We began a satellite validation experiment there, drilling a shallow hole and looking at shallow stratigraphy using Liz's Neutron density probe, and also my Borehole Optical Stratigraphy system. Above, I get the system ready to lower into the borehole.

The Beginnings of our drill setup. the large white boxes are known as ISC or core boxes, specially designed to keep ice cores frozen while in transit back to the laboratory for analysis.

Back to Greenland!

Hello again after a _long_ hiatus! 2008 was the closing year for my previous project, and in the intervening 2 years I've been very busy writing proposals. Fortunately, some of them have been funded, so I will once again be in Cold Climes.

This season my project takes me once again to Summit Station at the top of the Greenland ice sheet. The project involves a traverse from the coast to Summit, and our particular task this season at Summit is to drill a shallow core to help us interpret the measurements we have been collecting along the traverse. So far, there have been a couple of days in transit- yesterday we finally made it to Summit, after flying from upstate New York to Kangerlussuaq, a village on the coast of Greenland. It's been a busy few days with organizing cargo and packing and repacking. But today we finally started staging gear out at our drill site.