Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Collaborative Research: the NEEM Deep Ice Core (Award# 0806387)

PI: White, James W (
Phone: (303) 492.5494 
Institute/Department: U of Colorado, Boulder, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research 
IPY Project? YES
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ANS
Program Manager: Dr. William Wiseman (
Discipline(s): | Cryosphere\Atmospheric Chemistry | Cryosphere\Atmospheric Composition | Meteorology and Climate\Paleoclimatology |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
This grant funds the participation of a group of US scientists in the North Eemian (NEEM) Deep Ice Core Project, a project designed to acquire a new ice core in northern Greenland. NEEM is an international effort, led by the glaciology group at the University of Copenhagen. More than a dozen countries have expressed a desire to participate. The US is a main partner in NEEM. US scientists will take the lead on gas and gas isotope analyses and studies of the physics of gas incorporation into ice, they will place the modern climate in the context of the past two millennia, and they will help provide the basic temperature records in the ice needed to place all analyses in a climate context. A particular focus of the project will be on high temporal resolution to explore abrupt climate shifts. The most prominent analyses will focus on gas concentrations, in particular carbon monoxide, and stable isotopes of oxygen, hydrogen, argon, krypton, and carbon. A final subproject will focus on firn processes in order to understand the advection and diffusion of gases through the snow and ice and the development of ice bubbles that preserve the atmospheric gases.

Logistics Summary:
This project constitutes the US contribution to the Danish-led IPY deep drill camp in northwest Greenland called NEEM (for North EEMian ice core), the goal of which is to drill to the base of the ice cap in a region where Greenland was not ice-free during the last interglacial period. The U.S. collaboration consists of the following grants: 0806387 (White, CU LEAD), 0806339 (Baker, Dartmouth), 0806407 (Sowers, PSU), 0806414 (Brook, OSU), 0806377 (Severinghaus, Scripps), and 0909541 (McConnell, DRI). US NEEM scientists will lead the international NEEM effort in the recovery, analysis, and interpretation of atmospheric gases and their isotopic ratios, as well as the physics of gas trapping in ice and gas mixing in firn. During three consecutive years beginning in 2009, the NEEM camp will be open for about four months, beginning in late April when operational support personnel arrive to open the camp and start groooming the skiway. At different points throughout the 2010 season, a total of 6 American researchers will spend several weeks working at the NEEM site. They will assist with harvesting the core, stabilizing and archiving it in the field, and preparing it for shipment to various institutions for analysis. In 2009, one member of the American field team will also conduct some shallow coring for PI White’s earlier NEEM grant (0632222); support for that project will be combined with efforts for the more recent grant. Additionally, a four-person media team working under Jim White will visit the camp the last week in July. They will spend several days interviewing the researchers and filming camp operations for outreach material. In 2010, to ensure the ice core remains cold enough in the field, one researcher (Severinghaus) will travel to the camp on the opening flight to prepare a cold storage cave adjoining the main core processing trench. A passive cooling system using a firn air well should keep the storage cave at a temperature no warmer then -20C to ensure that cores are usable for gas analysis of O2/N2 and Ar/N2. All ice samples can then be safely stored in this area until the end of the season. Also in 2010, in addition to working at the NEEM deep drilling camp, PI McConnell will join U Colorado's Koni Steffen on his maintenance traverses to TUNU and Humboldt AWS sites (NASAAWS). At each site, McConnell will harvest a 30 m short core to update the aerosol record for these two sites. With the exception of the McConnell AWS traverse participation, all logistics support for the US NEEM effort will be carried under the record for 0806387 in this database. In the 2011 season, a total of 19 American researchers, 1 IDDO drill observer, 2 media, and 2 field personnel will visit NEEM, flying to and from the deep field camp via the 109th ANG logistics chain originating in Scotia, New York. American personnel will conduct a variety of activities at NEEM in addition to the main drilling effort. In May, personnel will drill a 400’core for Joe McConnell (NSF grant 0909541). For this effort, a team of four will arrive in early/mid-May, and spend about a month at NEEM drilling, processing, and packing the McConnell core. Approximately 50 core boxes will be shipped to DRI, the PI’s institute. In mid-July, two people from the GLISN project (NSF grant 0922983, David Simpson, PI) will spend 8 days at NEEM installing a seismometer deep in the hole left by the McConnell core. This team will partially backfill the hole, so the instrument will rest at a depth of ~380m. Unrelated to the McConnell/Anderson activities, in late July, 10 people will position at NEEM for activities involving a CReSIS Unattended Aerial Vehicle (0424589, Prasad Gogineni, PI). This team will base at NEEM for three weeks to operate the UAV within an existing 50km x 50km airspace around NEEM. In 2012, the final operational season for the NEEM camp, the University of Copenhagen will deploy a team of 5-7 people in late May, including a field leader, who will handle all camp logistics. Staff in the NEEM office at the KISS building in Kangerlussuaq will coordinate passengers/cargo on the 109th Air Guard flights to the NEEM camp. In addition to ANG flights, a Basler aircraft from Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will work out of NEEM to support two different projects. Research efforts will be focused on the first half of the season. In operational activities, in mid-June all work in the science trenches will stop and the team will begin dismantling the science and drill trenches. The two main garage buildings will be stored empty on snow berms and remain at NEEM. All other cargo will be removed from the site before the camp closes in mid-August.

The overall US contribution to the NEEM effort in 2012 involves provision of significant Air National Guard airlift to support the camp. CPS will work with NEEM organizers, NSF, and ANG to coordinate these flights within the overall Greenland flight schedule. For this particular award, CPS will coordinate ANG flights, meal tickets in Kangerlussuaq, and employ a US Field Assistant to work at camp for 2 months. Also 3ea/ 3000gal fuel bladders will be dropped at NEEM camp by the GRIT traverse. All other support will be provided by NEEM organizers at the University of Copenhagen.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2009Greenland - Kangerlussuaq07 / 07 / 2009 08 / 24 / 200910
2009Greenland - NEEM07 / 07 / 2009 08 / 24 / 200910
2010Greenland - Kangerlussuaq04 / 26 / 2010 07 / 30 / 20105
2010Greenland - NEEM04 / 26 / 2010 07 / 30 / 20106
2011Greenland - Kangerlussuaq04 / 30 / 2011 07 / 25 / 20115
2011Greenland - NEEM05 / 03 / 2011 07 / 16 / 20115
2012Greenland - Kangerlussuaq05 / 14 / 2012 07 / 22 / 20123
2012Greenland - NEEM05 / 15 / 2012 07 / 20 / 20123

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