Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Towards hydrologic understanding of the Greenland ice sheet (Award# NASASmith)

PI: Smith, Laurence C (
Phone: (401) 863.5153 
Institute/Department: Brown University, Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences 
IPY Project? NO
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NASA
Program Manager: Dr. Thomas Wagner (
Discipline(s): | Cryosphere |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
The Greenland ice sheet is considered a major potential contributor to observed and anticipated global sea-level rise under a warming climate. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that its surface is lowering, suggesting that the ice sheet is supplying nearly 10% of the world’s observed rise in sea level. However, this assumes no increase in densification, which can cause changes in elevation/volume without actually losing mass from the ice sheet. This three-year study will use radar remote sensing, climate models, and field data together with a simple melt/refreezing densification model to assess the prevalence of this process across the Greenland Ice Sheet and its importance to estimates of global sea-level rise.

Logistics Summary:
With this NASA-funded project, the PI will conduct hydrographic research in Greenland to assess the prevalence of snow densification across the Greenland Ice Sheet and its importance to estimates of global sea-level rise. In 2007, a research team traveled to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, and installed two trial hydrometric instruments for proof of concept studies near Kangerlussuaq. These instruments upload hydrologic water-level data each day via satellite modem. Data collection having been successful, in the summer of 2008, a team of 3 will return to Kangerlussuaq to install several more instruments and to conduct ground measurements of river discharge, the latter of which are needed for instrument calibration. The work requires two week-long visits, one in June and one in August. The team will tent-camp at the study site, leaving from and returning to Kangerlussuaq via truck. In 2009, the team will have three main research objectives: 1) servicing of the existing hydrologic water-level data loggers, 2) ground measurements of river discharge necessary for calibration of the hydrological water-level data, 3) collecting ground truth data for validation of air-borne interferometric synthetic aperture radar data. These tasks will be carried out during two week-long field campaigns, one in early June and one late August. During each field campaign a research team of two-three people will be deployed. The team will tent-camp at the main study site and access other study sites and Kangerlussuaq via truck. All members will travel to Kangerlussuaq via the ANG. All but one will return to the US via the ANG; the exception will travel via commercial air to Copenhagen in August. In 2010, two teams of two will make trips to Kangerlussuaq, for about one week each trip, to continue the work. The first will occur in early June; the second in late August. During each field campaign a research team of two or three people will be deployed. The team will tent-camp at the main study site and access other study sites and Kangerlussuaq via truck. All members will travel to/from Kangerlussuaq via the ANG. In 2011, researchers will return to Kangerlussuaq in July via a combination of commercial air and the ANG, and establish a truck-accessed camp near their study sites outside of Kangerlussuaq. After a week at the traditional sites, the team will put in, via helicopter, to a site near the Isungauta Sermia, where they will establish a second field camp. There, they will install Extreme Ice Survey cameras to monitor glacier flow; they also will survey and sample area streambed sediments. When this work is completed several days later, the team will pack up and return to Kangerlussuaq via helicopter. They will return their gear and depart Kanger ~ a day later, returning to the U.S. via the ANG. In 2012, researchers will return to Kangerlussuaq in several different deployments for the largest field campaign to date. May Itsortoq Camera Maintenance: Adam LeWinter will visit Itsortoq in mid-May to perform maintanence on the camera. The team will use Adam’s trip to test a logistics model that accesses the camera via an ATV (with guide, paid by researcher) in hopes of freeing the project from expensive and less-flexible helicopter use in the future. June Tundra Camp: Two researchers will use a combination of commercial air and the ANG and work from a truck-accessed camp at the established study sites outside of Kangerlussuaq for approximately one week. July 660 Camp: A group of 8 researchers will camp at the “660” road that terminates by the ice sheet margin to practice camp set-up on the ice and test instruments before the helicopter arrives for their Ice Camp. July Ice Camp: A helicopter will be used to put 4 researchers into camp for approximatley 4 days to take measurements in the ice sheet ablation zone outside Kangerlussuaq. Particular focus will be on stuyding supraglacial streams. While the Ice Camp team works, a team of 4 will make trips with the helicopter to supraglacial lakes,studying them with remote-controlled boats and returning to the KISS each night to callibrate instruments and analyze data. July/August Tundra Camp: After the July Ice Camp pull-out, some researchers will return to the US while 3 remain to set up camp at the tundra site near Kangerlussuaq, working there until late August. July/August Isortoq Camp: After the July Ice camp pull-out and until late August, two researchers will travel to the Isortoq camera sites with a guide (paid by the researcher). They will set up a camp and monitor the braided river system. 2013 will see a return to the smaller teams but broader coverage with two summer data collection trips. In June two researchers will deploy to study Watson River geomorphology, and observe spring break up and supra glacial hydrology at Point 660. Researchers will also service all data loggers. In mid-June, two additional researchers will join the team and the studies of Watson River and supra glacial hydrology at 660. Then in late July/August, three researchers will return and establish a tent camp near the Russell Glacier Road at Point 660, and will hike to service instrument sites and retrieve the memory card from a data logger at Isortoq. The team will also work in Kangerlussuaq to close the project down for the season. In July 2014, a team of two will deploy drifters in supraglacial rivers with the aid of a private helicopter trip. A team of three will also deploy to service leveloggers and measure discharge at AK-river, Watson, and Orkendalen sites, accessing sites via truck. They will also repair a camera system at the Isortoq river pending helicopter availability during the July flight period. In August of 2014 a team of four will deploy to service level loggers and measure discharge at AK-river, Watson, and Orkendalen sites. They will also deploy drifters in supraglacial rivers.

CPS will provide KISS user days, vehicle rentals, camping gear, communications/safety gear, ANG air/travel support for passengers and cargo, and logistics support in Kangerlussuaq. NASA will reimburse the NSF via interagency funds transfer. All other support will be arranged by the PI and paid from the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2007Greenland - Kangerlussuaq1
2008Greenland - Kangerlussuaq06 / 02 / 2008 08 / 24 / 20084
2009Greenland - Kangerlussuaq05 / 27 / 2009 08 / 28 / 20095
2010Greenland - Kangerlussuaq06 / 02 / 2010 08 / 22 / 20103
2011Greenland - Kangerlussuaq07 / 13 / 2011 07 / 25 / 20116
2012Greenland - Isortoq05 / 15 / 2012 08 / 17 / 20123
2012Greenland - Kangerlussuaq05 / 14 / 2012 08 / 22 / 201212
2012Greenland - Point 66007 / 12 / 2012 07 / 18 / 20127
2012Greenland - Smith Ice Camp 107 / 19 / 2012 07 / 24 / 201211
2012Greenland - Tundra Camp06 / 05 / 2012 06 / 12 / 20122
2013Greenland - Isortoq07 / 30 / 2013 08 / 09 / 20133
2013Greenland - Kangerlussuaq06 / 03 / 2013 08 / 21 / 20137
2013Greenland - Point 66006 / 04 / 2013 08 / 19 / 20135
2014Greenland - Isortoq07 / 15 / 2014 07 / 21 / 20143
2014Greenland - Kangerlussuaq07 / 03 / 2014 08 / 27 / 20146
2014Greenland - Point 66008 / 15 / 2014 08 / 19 / 20143

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