Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Greenland glacier discharge variability from automated ground-based imaging (Award# NASAIceCam)

PI: Box, Jason (
Phone: (614) 247.6899 
Institute/Department: Ohio State University, Byrd Polar Research Center 
IPY Project? NO
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NASA
Program Manager: Dr. Thomas Wagner (
Discipline(s): | Cryosphere |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
Very recently, scientists have been surprised by how quickly such a large ice mass as the Greenland ice sheet can respond via its outlet glaciers to inter-annual climate variability. Regions of enhanced flow on the ice sheet, i.e. ice streams, have demonstrated large fluctuations in speed, thickness, and end position (Joughin et al. 2004; Podlech et al. 2004; G. Hamilton), in apparent response to positive and negative temperature trends. Even the ice sheet flow rates outside regions of streaming exhibit a significant sensitivity to the duration and intensity of melting (Zwally et al. 2002). While glacier discharge estimates have been made for Greenland’s largest outlet glaciers (Rignot et al. 2000; 2001; 2004), these have not captured what we now understand to be a system characterized by significant seasonal and interannual flow variability (Joughin et al. 2004; Luckman and Murray, 2005). The need for higher temporal resolution discharge data is evident. This project (funded by NASA) builds on work begun in 2005. Researchers plan to conduct maintenance of autonomous ground-based mono- and stereo-imaging systems installed previously that are already ‘watching’ three Greenland outlet glaciers as well as to install a second camera station at each site to achieve unambiguous velocity determination from using photogrammetry techniques. The researchers will also install two additional glacier monitoring sites to represent regional ice sheet behavior. Major Objectives: 1. Measure seasonal and interannual variability in Greenland outlet glacier surface velocities; 2. Use surface velocity cross-section and existing ice thickness data to estimate variations in glacier ice-volume discharge near the grounding line; 3. Determine how much of the ice flow speed variance can be explained by climate variability; 4. Evaluate inter-regional correlation in glacier flow variability. This project is supported by NASA and involves a NASA and National Geographic-funded photographer. This work is proposed to coincide with and commemorate the International Polar Year 2007/08.

Logistics Summary:
This project’s researchers track glacier motion in Greenland via a network of automatic cameras strategically placed around the ice sheet. During trips to Greenland, in 2007-2009, project teams will conduct maintenance on existing automatic cameras and deploy additional ones. During 2007, researchers will install 12 automatic cameras in Greenland. First, a team of 2 will travel to Kangerlussuaq in late May. The team will tent-camp close to the ice-sheet margin nearby and work there for about a week. Two additional members will travel to Kangerlussuaq during this period; joined by one of the researchers working at the ice-sheet margin, a team of three will reposition to Ilulissat (the second of the two original members will not join the team in this additional work). From Ilulissat, the team will install IceCams at 2 sites--Jakobshavn Glacier and Dead Glacier--using a helicopter charter. Next, they will travel via commercial airlines to Uummannaq, and basing from there, will fly via helicopter to three camera sites, camping at each site as needed to complete the installations/maintenance. When this work is completed, the team will return to Ilulissat via commercial air, and, basing from there, will visit existing sites via helicopter before returning to Kangerlussuaq for travel home. In 2008, a team of six will travel to Greenland in mid-May via the Air National Guard, and on to Ilulissat via commercial air. From there, they will fly to Store Glacier from Ilulissat via a helicopter charter. While the team continues the work, two members will depart the field, returning to Kangerlussuaq about the third week of May, and departing Greenland via commercial air thereafter. Meanwhile, the remaining four members will split into two teams. Two personnel will be put in to an Ilulissat-area glacier by helicopter for a week of tent-camping and camera work. The other two will return to Uummannaq, and, basing from that settlement, will visit the Rink and Umiamiko glaciers to the north of Uummannaq via a single-day helicopter charter. The Uummannaq team will then fly via commercial air back to Ilulissat, to await the return from the field of their two colleagues. The group will return to Kangerlussuaq via commercial air, and depart Greenland via ANG in June.The PI and three others will return to Greenland in July for almost three weeks, to conduct further work on the camera installations. The team will again base from Ilulissat and later Uummannaq. During two trips to Greenland in 2009, project researchers (Box and Howat) will conduct maintenance on existing automatic cameras and deploy newly-developed, "disposable" GPS receivers. For the first deployment, a team of three will travel to Greenland in mid-May. During the first, ~10 day trip, the team will travel via ANG to Kangerlussuaq, and from there via commercial air to Uummannaq. Basing from Uummannaq, the team will make day trips via helicopter to place GPS receivers and cameras at Store Glacier. These instruments will record data until they are recovered in early August. When the spring work is done, the team will return to Kangerlussuaq via commercial air, and travel back to New York via the ANG. During the August trip (Deployment 2), the team will conduct camera maintenance and download data at other glaciers as well. A team of two will travel to Greenland again in 2010, flying into Kangerlussuaq via the ANG in early June. They will visit glaciers near Ilulissat and Uummannnaq via helicopter, travelling to these communities via Air Greenland commercial air. The team will first base from Ilulissat for several days. They will travel to the Jakobshavn Glacier and Sermeq Avannarleq on day trips. When this work is completed, Balog will return to Kangerlussuaq and depart Greenland via commercial air while LeWinter travels to Uummannnaq. There, he will make helicopter-supported day trips to installations at Store, Rink, Umiamiko glaciers and Torsukatat Avannarleq. When the work is finished several days later, the researcher will return to Kangerlussuaq and spend a few days visiting local installations, based from the KISS. He will then depart Greenland via commercial air. Note: Both James Balog (Balog Photography) and Ian Howat (the Ohio State University) will work on side projects that complement the main research. Both efforts are funded by NASA, but only the latter will be covered by a funds transfer between NASA and NSF. CPS will recoup the costs of supporting the Balog side effort directly from Mr. Balog.

CPS support includes ANG air travel coordination, helicopter charters, Kangerlussuaq lodging, and freight within Greenland for the IceCam project. These funds will be recouped via interagency funds transfer between NASA and NSF. The researchers will pay for commercial tickets within Greenland and lodging outside Kangerlussuaq themselves.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2007Greenland - Ilulissat06 / 01 / 2007 06 / 21 / 20073
2007Greenland - Jakobshavn Glacier06 / 01 / 2007 06 / 18 / 20073
2007Greenland - Kangerlussuaq05 / 24 / 2007 06 / 22 / 20074
2007Greenland - Uummannaq06 / 07 / 2007 06 / 13 / 20073
2008Greenland - Ilulissat05 / 13 / 2008 07 / 24 / 20087
2008Greenland - Kangerlussuaq05 / 12 / 2008 07 / 27 / 20088
2008Greenland - Rinks Isbrae05 / 26 / 2008 05 / 26 / 20082
2008Greenland - Umiamiko Glacier05 / 26 / 2008 05 / 26 / 20082
2008Greenland - Uummannaq05 / 16 / 2008 07 / 14 / 20086
2009Greenland - Kangerlussuaq05 / 11 / 2009 08 / 24 / 20096
2009Greenland - Store Glacier05 / 13 / 2009 05 / 19 / 20092
2009Greenland - Uummannaq05 / 13 / 2009 08 / 24 / 20096
2010Greenland - Ilulissat06 / 03 / 2010 06 / 08 / 20102
2010Greenland - Jakobshavn Glacier06 / 04 / 2010 06 / 04 / 20102
2010Greenland - Kangerlussuaq06 / 02 / 2010 06 / 11 / 20102
2010Greenland - Rinks Isbrae06 / 08 / 2010 06 / 08 / 20102
2010Greenland - Sermeq Avannarleq06 / 04 / 2010 06 / 04 / 20102
2010Greenland - Store Glacier06 / 07 / 2010 06 / 07 / 20102
2010Greenland - Torsukatat Avannarleq06 / 07 / 2010 06 / 07 / 20102
2010Greenland - Umiamiko Glacier06 / 08 / 2010 06 / 08 / 20102
2010Greenland - Uummannaq06 / 08 / 2010 06 / 11 / 20102

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