Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Group is back at Summit for 2008

Here is the 2008 Phase 1 Snow Photochemistry crew. We are still looking at the impact of Bromine on Summit radical chemistry. Major focus of this year is to fine the source of the Br and to get all the necessary measurements to run an integrated snowpack-atmosphere photochemistry model.

The news and information for the 2008 campaign can be found at the following websites:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bike Trip to the Russell Glacier

Today Pieter Beckman and I rode Mtn. bikes up to the edge of the Russell Glacier. It is about 18 miles one way. Doesn't sound that bad, but the road is a bit up and down and the last part is all on soft glacier till, not fun to ride on. This is about 5 miles into the trip near where the US Military has a bombing practice range. The sign warns you to stay on the road as there might still be some un-exploded ordinance in this area. I doubt there is any unexploded bombs left because the muskox certainly must have accidentally walked over all this area over the past 40 years, but I will not be testing my muskox theory any time soon. I am much happier after this photo was taken as I asked Pieter (a former bike mechanic) to take a look at my bike. I told him I felt like I was riding with the brakes on and indeed both the front and back brakes were way too tight. While there were still many hills to go I felt better after this, and Pieter pointed out I had a good excuse were why I was so tired (and lagging behind Pieter) the rest of the trip.

Here is a neat ice halo a couple of miles later. To learn more about ice halos check out this website on atmospheric optics. Seems to me like this is probably mostly due to high cirrus clouds.

Here is the glacial till part of the ride with the Russell Glacier in the background.

A good view of the glacier river draining the glacier.

Lots of evidence of recent collapses of big chunks of ice from the icesheet edge. That and occasional thunder like nosies caused by nearby collapses made us wary of getting too close.

Looking down the east side.

Rocks recently uncovered by the retreating glacier.

Pieter walking near the ice edge.

Interesting region with blue ice. Note sure why or how this is different.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Packing Up and fun

After yesterday we finished packing all the instruments up and hauling them (using electric snow mobile and the electric "Bad Boy" 4WD golf cart) back from SAT Camp to the main base. Some of the instruments are DNF (Do Not Freeze) so we stored them in the Maintenance Shop to keep them warm. We completely build 2 full-sized Air Force pallets (84 inches wide x 86 inches high x 94 inches high) with our instrumentation. We still had a smaller pallet for personal luggage, sleeping bags, and the GaTech Tool Chest which was too heavy and too big to fit anywhere else.

After the packing was done we played another game of soccer between the Old Pirates (over-35) and the Snow Bunnies (under-35). It was a very close game that the Pirates won 1-0. The Pirates did have a more players which was not exactly fair. After everyone recovered from soccer, Jack lead a 9 hole round of golf on the 2007 Summit Summer 9-hole Golf course. The game was almost called after we lost 5 balls on the 5 hole, but we played better the last few holes and manged to finish the round before our hands were completely frozen.

This morning we packed up two pallets of Ice Core boxes. Some of the firn cores from the Albert/Severinghouse Project but most were from the Cole-Dai firn core drilling that is still going on. After landing in Kanger this afternoon we transfered all the core to the large freezer facility in Kanger.

Friday, June 15, 2007

More Diamond Dust

It has been snowing on and off today. Now looks like diamond dust falling but a fog may be rolling in. Here a photo from late last night, right now there is another snowdog out there.

The heat wave has abated a bit, with slightly colder temperatures each night. Still pretty easy to sleep with nighttime temps warmer than -20 deg C.

Pressure has been dropping over the past few days and finally stabilized over the last few hours. Forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and 30% chance of snow for next 3 days. So looks like more of the same while we are packing up and for our flight back to Kanger.

The BrO levels have been really low for the past 4 days. Here is a composite map of SCIAMACHY total column BrO for 12-14th of June. This shows lower BrO levels than we saw last week near coast of Greenland. Perhaps this fits in with our observations. Hard to say as we are still not sure of the source of the BrO at Summit.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ice Crystals in Summit Sky

Lots of ice crystals in the air tonight. It is difficult to capture in a photo but lots of sparkling dots floating right now.

The ice crystals up creating this Sun Pillar. See Katrine's blog ( for more info on how Sun Pillars form.

Study of Volcanic events in Greenland Ice Cores

A group of scientists from three different institutions: Jihong Cole-Dai (South Dakota State University), Mark Thiemens (UC-San Diego), and Joel Savarino (LGGE-Grenoble) are collecting 4 ice cores (two 80 m cores, two 150 m cores). Joel has a blog *in french* about his travels at: Above is a photo of the drill site that is about 5 km southwest of Summit Camp. Here is Mike Pasternik when he visited the drill camp a couple of days ago.

Here is Alyson Lanciki a graduate student from SD State. She is baging up a section of the core to take back to the lab for analysis.

Here is a close up photo of the drill bore hole. The cores will be retrograded to Kangerlussuaq for storage at -15C until they can be flown to Scotia, NY via C-130 and sent via refrigerated truck to NICL (the National Ice Core Lab) in Denver, CO.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Update from Sallie's Fen

Here are more shots of the new baby girl with her mom Veronica at Sallie's Fen.

Right now her name has been narrowed down to either Venus or Victoria. Thanks Nicola for the new photos.

New Birth and a Birthday

Jack Dibb and Nicola Blake of Sallie's Fen Alpacas are proud to announce the birth of a new baby girl alpaca. The as yet unnamed cria is standing next to her mom, Veronica in her new Barrington, NH pasture.

David Lew (NOAA - Air Resources Lab - Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division) celebrated his birthday by grooming the trail to sat camp in the electric snowmobile. We are preparing to pack up the instruments in a few days and want to get the trail firm enough to support the electric "Bad Boy" buggy. The Bad Boy is an electric golf cart on steroids that can we are hoping will help us haul our instruments back to the main camp.

Today we received all the NILU Atmospheric Backward Transport Analysis Products by Andreas Stohl. This analysis helps us to interpret transport processes and how they influenced recent measurements taken at the Summit, Greenland, station. It attempts to replace trajectory calculations -- the major tool used so far for that purpose -- with quantitative dispersion model runs including full turbulence and convection parameterizations. The plots from backward model runs using the FLEXPART model. A description of the various products derived from the backward runs can be found here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Snowy day at Summit

Today at Summit it has been snowing on and off all day. But total accumulation has been only about 3 cm.

Here is a photo of the snowbird making measurements of solar UV at different depths in the snow. It is hard to tell the snow from the sky.

The BrO was low today, we are not exactly sure why. And now we are getting Northerly winds, which means we are getting polluted by the camp generators. We are looking forward to a Summit with more wind generators and solar panels.

Tonight the Sun is finally back in view. Here is Pieter Beckman (UNH) on his way out to make a skype phone call home. This is the beauty of having wireless Internet throughout Summit Camp. The only problem is that with 34 people all using it at the same time, it is often frustratingly slow. Katrine is now working the night shift and gets to appreciate the fast network when we are all asleep.

Monday, June 11, 2007

BrO at Summit

Last night the GaTech CIMS group (Greg Huey, David Tanner, etc) measured relatively high levels of BrO (bromine monoxide) during a high wind event (windspeeds greater than 14 m/s). This is one of the things that we were looking for this summer. In 2003/4 we saw unusually high OH radical during blowing snow events and our hypothesis was that Br chemistry may be occurring. The OH was not that elevated last night, but the OH/HO2 ratio was. In addition, there was a peak in the reactive gaseous Hg. While this is not conclusive, it is all very encouraging. Interestingly, Jack Dibb and Pieter Beckman's soluble Br- was not elevated. So we have much to figure out. A related question is: Where is the Br coming from. As you can see from the top figure (from University of Cologne), there was a high pressure system over southern Greenland. This was giving us strong westerly winds.

Above is a Hysplit model calculation (from NOAA-ARL) of where the air we sampled last night came from. This is a 2 day back trajectory which suggests that this airmass stayed on icesheet for the past 2 days, but started off near the coast, not too far from Kangerlussuaq.

Here is the SCIAMACHY Satellite measurement of total column BrO for 04-06 June 2007, the data for 07-09 June would be better, but it is not available yet. In anycase, you can see that hotspots for BrO west of Hudson Bay and around the North Pole. Also significant BrO over all of Greenland. Some of this BrO is probably high above our heads, but perhaps some comes in from the Coast during this storms, or maybe mixes down from above. This is still a mystery. See for more SCIA BrO data.

This figure shows where open water is and where sea ice is melting. This is the average plot for the month of May, but shows significant open water southwest of Greenland. Theory is that you have to have open leads in the ice with Br- in the ice reacting with ozone to make BrO.
See that National Snow and Ice Data Center ( for more sea ice extent data.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Snowbird in blowing snow

Today was forecasted to be clear and sunny with a high of -5 deg C. It was a beautiful morning, but it quickly degraded and has been snowing and windy all day. The Snowbird has been working well today. You can see a mini-snow drift around the snowbird.

Katrine Gorham (UC-Irvine) usually collects a whole air sample every 4 hours, but today with the high winds she is collecting samples every 2 hours. Every time she collects air, sh also measures the snow temperature (at 22:00 LT the snow was -15 deg C) and records the other meteorological variables (wind speed = 13 m/s, air temp = - 7 deg C, etc). This is the warmest temperature of the summer so far.

The Satellite camp has grown in the last week. We have neighbors from the University of Washington measuring isotopes of Nitrogen and Oxygen in snow and air. And a group from the Netherlands (in the black tent) that are looking at the Atmospheric Energy Budget above the snow. They are measuring the incoming solar radiation, the reflected solar, as well as the outgoing IR. The dutch scientists are also launching a weather balloon each day at 1200. This is really useful data for our work because it tells us the height of the mixed layer above the snow.

In this photo you can see the snow drift in front of the Bally building where Jack is measuring water soluble gases (nitric acid, nitrous acid, HOBr, etc.). He has two inlet, one just above (or in) the snow, and another about 1.5 m above the snow. By comparing the levels of trace gases from these two inlets, he can determine if the gases are coming out of (or depositing to) the snow pack.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Brad's Trip to Thule

An Air Greenland Twin Otter made an emergency flight to Summit this morning at 0600.

The Otter came to transport a scientist with a tooth infection from Summit to Thule, Greenland for urgent medical care. The scientist recently had his wisdom teeth removed and unfortunately his healing jaw became infected and started to swell. He is now doing fine in Thule.

Mr. Brad Johnson (guy with yellow and orange hat) volunteered to accompany the patient to Thule. Brad is one of our heavy equipment operators with many years experience in both the Arctic and the Antarctic. He is taking advantage of this opportunity to explore the possibility of a over land traverse from Thule to Greenland as an alterative way of getting fuel and equipment to Summit. Tomorrow Brad is going to explore the ramp the coast up onto the icesheet near Thule. On the flight from Summit to Thule, Brad was hoping to take some photos of the route.

Above is the Twin Otter taking off from Summit in poor visibility. These experienced pilots are quite good and have done many flights to Summit.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Sara Wheeler, famous author visiting Summit

Sara Wheeler arrived Summit Camp on Wednesday and has been touring around visiting all the sites and asking lots of good questions about our research. Sara lives in London and has traveled all around the world. So it has been great fun talking to her about her adventures. I am still not sure what aspect of Greenland she is interested in writing about we are all looking forward to reading her next book.

For those interested in Sara's other writings, check out the books listed below.

Photos and text below from
book cover
A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Apsley Cherry-Garrard was one of the youngest members of Robert Falcon Scott’s legendary expedition to Antarctica, the last man sent out to meet Captain Scott and his men in February 1912, when they were expected to return victorious any day from the South Pole. He embarked on his own epic journey into the Antarctic winter to collect eggs of the Emperor penguin. It was dark all the time, his teeth shattered, and the tent blew away in the cold. “But we kept our tempers,” he wrote, “even with God.”

After serving in the First World War, with zealous encouragement from his neighbor George Bernard Shaw, Cherry wrote the undisputed masterpiece of polar literature, The Worst Journey in the World. But as the years progressed, he faced a terrible struggle against depression and despair. Sara Wheeler’s Cherry is the first biography of this great hero of Antarctic exploration, written with unrestricted access to his papers and with the full cooperation of his family.
book cover
Terra Incognita
Travels in Antarctica

It is the coldest, windiest, driest place on earth, an icy desert of unearthly beauty and stubborn impenetrability. For centuries, Antarctica has captured the imagination of our greatest scientists and explorers, lingering in the spirit long after their return. Shackleton called it "the last great journey"; for Apsley Cherry-Garrard it was the worst journey in the world.

This is a book about the call of the wild and the response of the spirit to a country that exists perhaps most vividly in the mind. Sara Wheeler spent seven months in Antarctica, living with its scientists and dreamers. No book is more true to the spirit of that continent--beguiling, enchanted and vast beyond the furthest reaches of our imagination. Chosen by Beryl Bainbridge and John Major as one of the best books of the year, recommended by the editors of Entertainment Weekly and the Chicago Tribune, one of the Seattle Times's top ten travel books of the year, Terra Incognita is a classic of polar literature.
book cover
Too Close to the Sun
The Audacious Life and Times of Denys Finch

Denys Finch Hatton was adored by women and idolized by men. A champion of Africa, legendary for his good looks, his charm, and his prowess as a soldier, lover, and hunter, Finch Hatton inspired Karen Blixen to write the unforgettable stories in Out of Africa. Now esteemed British biographer Sara Wheeler tells the truth about this extraordinarily charismatic adventurer.

Born to an old aristocratic family that had gambled away most of its fortune, Finch Hatton grew up in a world of effortless elegance and boundless power. Tall and graceful, with the soul of a poet and an athlete’s relaxed masculinity, he became a hero without trying at Eton and Oxford. In 1910, searching for novelty and danger, Finch Hatton arrived in British East Africa and fell in love–with a continent, with a landscape, with a way of life that was about to change forever.

Wheeler brilliantly conjures the mystical beauty of Kenya at a time when teeming herds of wild animals roamed unmolested across pristine savannah. No one was more deeply attuned to this beauty than Finch Hatton–and no one more bitterly mourned its passing when the outbreak of World War I engulfed the region in a protracted, bloody guerrilla conflict. Finch Hatton was serving as a captain in the Allied forces when he met Karen Blixen in Nairobi and embarked on one of the great love affairs of the twentieth century.

With delicacy and grace, Wheeler teases out truth from fiction in the liaison that Blixen herself immortalized in Out of Africa. Intellectual equals, bound by their love for the continent and their inimitable sense of style, Finch Hatton and Blixen were genuine pioneers in a land that was quickly being transformed by violence, greed, and bigotry.
Ever restless, Finch Hatton wandered into a career as a big-game hunter and became an expert bush pilot; his passion that led to his affair with the notoriously unconventional aviatrix Beryl Markham. But Markham was no more able to hold him than Blixen had been. Mesmerized all his life by the allure of freedom and danger, Finch Hatton was, writes Wheeler, “the open road made flesh.”

In painting a portrait of an irresistible man, Sara Wheeler has beautifully captured the heady glamour of the vanished paradise of colonial East Africa. In Too Close to the Sun she has crafted a book that is as ravishing as its subject.
book cover
Travels in a Thin Country
A Journey Through Chile

Squeezed between a vast ocean and the longest mountain range on earth, Chile is 2,600 miles long and never more than 110 miles wide--not a country that lends itself to maps, as Sara Wheeler discovered when she traveled alone from the top to the bottom, from the driest desert in the world to the sepulchral wastes of Antarctica. Eloquent, astute, nimble with history and deftly amusing, Travels in a Thin Country established Sara Wheeler as one of the very best travel writers in the world.