Friday, May 11, 2007

Electric Powered Vehicles

Above is a photo from the C-130 while idling at the Summit taxi-way. Notice the black soot on the snow behind the engines. Summit does not have many C-130 flights, averaging about 18 per year. We are very sensitive to local pollution because we travel all this way to study atmospheric and snow chemistry in a remote area, we want to make sure we are not contaminating the air and snow we are trying to study. Other sources of local pollution include the electric power generator, snow mobiles, a bulldozer, and runway groomer. The dominant wind direction is from the South, so to be sure we are sampling clean unpolluted air our measurement site is about 1 km south of the main. To keep our site clean we walk (i.e., do not drive snow mobiles) out to/from Sat Camp and have defined a "clean air sector". The Summit crew avoids driving any tractors or snow mobiles into the clean air sector and the C-130 aircraft are not supposed to fly in this area. In addition the Summit staff refrains from doing major activities (i.e., snow moving, run way grooming) when we occasionally have winds North winds (about 10% of the time). What is amazing is that they minimize activities during North winds all year round, not just when we are here doing an experiment.

The good news is last year NSF purchased an electric 4WD utility vehicle (above towing our scientific equipment) and two electric snow mobiles. The electric snow mobiles did not work so well, but the electric buggy is a hit. It works great around camp, only limitation is that it can only drive on packed snow. In fact the e-buggy sunk into the snow when we drove off the path soon after this photo was taken. It is light weight and we were easily able to pull it back onto the packed snow. In addition, a new and improved snow mobile is arriving here at Summit next week. I'll tell you more about this after it arrives. The other exciting project is that NSF and VECO Polar will be testing out a small (6 kW) wind turbine here at Summit. Next week the last pieces of the windmill will arrive and it will only take a couple of weeks to set up. We hope that in near future Summit Camp will be 100% wind and solar (during the summer) and have diesel generators as an emergency back up.

There is a photo of the high rent side of Summit tent city. Advantages of these sites include a short walk to the outhouse and the Big House. Big House has a shower, kitchen, dining area, and office. The big ball on the roof contains the satellite dish that keeps us in contact with the rest of the world. Summit Camp has wireless internet pretty much everywhere and a voIP phone.

Right now there are 24 hours of light here at Summit which takes some getting used to. But in my opinion the high altitude is a bigger adjustment. Summit is approximately 10,500 ft above sea level (approximately 3 km) so it is difficult to run to dinner when you are late. The last time the Sun set (was just below the horizon) was the day we arrived 07 May 2007. The next time the Sun will touch the horizonl here at Summit is August 7th, 2007.

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