Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Collaborative Research: Greenland Ice Sheet Snow Accumulation Variability: Filling Knowledge and Data Voids (Award# 0909499)

PI: Forster, Richard (Rick) R (
Phone: (801) 581.3611 
Institute/Department: U of Utah, Department of Geography 
IPY Project? NO
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ANS
Program Manager: Dr. Henrietta Edmonds ( )
Discipline(s): | Cryosphere |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). The award will support an investigation of snow accumulation in the south-eastern sector of the Greenland ice sheet (GIS). Snow accumulation rates on the GIS have been significantly underestimated and the missing mass prevents accurate estimates of the overall ice sheet mass balance. The south-eastern sector of the ice sheet contains the largest proportion of the missing mass. Consequently, this study will measure snow accumulation using new and existing firn cores along two transects in the south-east Greenland data void and, by combining the firn core records with ground-penetrating radar surveys, the research team will develop continuous accumulation transects between 2500 m and 500 m elevation. Successful completion of the investigation will fill a geographic gap in knowledge of accumulation on the Greenland ice sheet, and the data will have broader scientific value for remote sensing of accumulation and ice sheet mass balance, and ice sheet and climate modeling. In addition to the scientific benefits, the 'Broader Impacts' of the investigation include a comprehensive suite of informal and formal education and outreach activities for all age groups. Notable among these is a collaboration with the Utah Museum of Natural History that includes the development of a display about snow accumulation in Greenland, hosting a workshop for teachers, and project scientists' participation in "Scientist in the Spotlight" and "Science Movie Night" series.

Logistics Summary:
Researchers on this collaborative project known as ACT 10 and consisting of grants 0909499 (Forster, U of Utah, LEAD) and 0909469 (Box, OSU) will measure snow accumulation from four new and four update firn cores along two strategically located transects continuously connected by accumulation measurements from ground penetrating radar (GPR) in southeast Greenland. The four new 50 m cores will be taken from ice located between 1400 and 1700 m elevation within 60 km from the coast. The update cores at previous firn core sites along with the new cores will allow the researchers to date and compute densities for annual layers and associate them with GPR reflections continuously along a total of 1,000 km of transects over two field seasons. This effort will expand on the year 2004 Arctic Circle Transverse (ACT) using the same team to date the cores and produce the GPR-derived accumulation measurements. Researchers will conduct field work in 2010 and 2011. For 2010, a team of 5 researchers will conduct a ~six week field effort with two main phases: an overland field camping/drilling traverse, and an unplanned and serindipedous airborne GPR survey from NASA who coincidentally are operating in the area and who have been very cooperative to combine the complimentary research. For the former, after arriving in Kangerlussuaq around 7 April and preparing for the field work, five researchers (including one IDDO drilling expert) will put in to the first of three field sites (ACT10-C, B, A) via Twin Otter. They will spend ~four days drilling before the Twin Otter returns and moves the team/gear to the second site. The team will spend about four days drilling at the second site before moving via Twin Otter to the third (and final) site. When the work is completed, the Twin Otter will pull the team/camp out of the field and return all to Kangerlussuaq to regroup. The researchers, joined by Jason Box, will spend several days in Kangerlussuaq preparing for the work ahead before flying via ANG to Camp Raven. From there, they will begin a snowmobile traverse to collect ground-penetrating radar images, using Twin Otter support to make camp moves and established caches to refuel their vehicles. Ten to 14 days after beginning the traverse, the team will return to Raven Camp, fly via ANG back to Kangerlussuaq and de-kit. Box and Forster will depart via commercial air. The rest of the team will return to the US via the ANG logistics chain. Cores and samples will be removed from the field via the Twin Otter supporting the drilling effort and retrograded to Kangerlussuaq via ANG. There, they will be stored in freezers until the combined shipment can be returned to the US via ANG cold deck for onward transport to the home institute. In 2011, a team of 3 researchers and one driller will conduct a ~ six week field trip essentially identical to the 2010 field season but with different sites and a logistics model built on lessons from the first traverse. The team will arrive in Kangerlussuaq in late March, and prepare for fieldwork while the Twin Otter completes installing a cache of fuel and ice core boxes (this effort began in February). The field team will then be transported via C-130 to the still-closed Raven Skiway. From Raven the team will traverse on snow machine to drill site ACT11 C and make shuttle trips to distribute the boxes and fuel to sites ACT11-A and ACT11-B. The team will drill cores at A, B and C and then bury the core samples for the Twin Otter to collect in the second week of May. The team will then return on snowmachines to Raven where they will assist in recovering the first 50m of cores produced during the drilling of the GLISN instrumentation hole (see Simpson, 0922983) before flying via ANG back to Kangerlussuaq. The project’s cores will be returned to Kangerlussuaq and kept in frozen storage until they are transported to Scotia via ANG “cold deck” flight for onward shipment to the home institute.

CPS will provide ANG coordination including cargo transport, fixed-wing charters, Kangerlussuaq user days, snowmachines, core sample transport coordination within the US, camping/safety/comms gear, and fuel. IDDO will provide drill support; ESA will provide geophysical data collection/processing support. All other logistics (including core transport for analysis at DRI) will be paid by the researchers from the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2010Greenland - ACT10-A04 / 25 / 2010 05 / 07 / 20105
2010Greenland - ACT10-B04 / 25 / 2010 05 / 07 / 20105
2010Greenland - ACT10-C04 / 25 / 2010 05 / 07 / 20105
2010Greenland - Forster Saddle04 / 25 / 2010 05 / 07 / 20105
2010Greenland - Kangerlussuaq04 / 07 / 2010 05 / 20 / 20105
2010Greenland - Low Cache04 / 25 / 2010 05 / 07 / 20105
2010Greenland - Raven04 / 08 / 2010 05 / 20 / 20105
2011Greenland - ACT11-A04 / 07 / 2011 05 / 02 / 20114
2011Greenland - ACT11-B04 / 07 / 2011 05 / 02 / 20114
2011Greenland - ACT11-C04 / 07 / 2011 05 / 02 / 20114
2011Greenland - Kangerlussuaq03 / 30 / 2011 05 / 25 / 20114
2011Greenland - Raven04 / 05 / 2011 05 / 23 / 20114

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