Arctic Field Projects



Project Title: Seal-Tag Hydrographic Observations in Ice-Ocean Fjords, Greenland (Award# 1304137)

PI: Holland, David M (dmh4@nyu.edu)
Phone: (212) 998.3245 
Institute/Department: New York University,  
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\AON
Program Manager: Dr. Roberto Delgado (robdelga@nsf.gov)
Discipline(s): | Biology | Oceanography |

Project Web Site(s):
Data: http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/
NSF_Award_Info: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=13...
Data: https://arcticdata.io/

Science Summary:
The overarching objective of this project is to implement cost-efficient, year-round, long-term subsurface oceanographic observations along the periphery of the Greenland Ice Sheet, as it is widely believed that the warming of such waters plays a critical role in the rapid retreat of outlet glaciers. Such oceanographic data, combined with appropriate glaciological observations, and assimilated into a fully coupled climate model ultimately offers a pathway to producing credible, robust projections of global sea-level change due to ice sheet mass loss at the periphery, arguably the most relevant location for future, major change. In this project, researchers will plan a marine-mammal sensor-tagging approach that will allow for such sustained observations. This grant is motivated by a successful pilot project involving ringed seals in two Greenland fjords this past summer. The pilot proved the viability of the technique, which makes use of ringed seals who spend the majority of their time in such fjords and who may be appropriately equipped with integrated, location-tracking, CTD, and satellite communication instrumentation. The observations begun in the pilot and which researchers seek to fully implement through this grant will be archived in national data bases, on the project's website, and made widely available to others in near real-time. This project will include observations of ocean temperatures and salinities along the periphery of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Researchers plan to use ringed seals as the primary data collector, a species which has been established to remain close to the fjord area, and that will provide a relatively coherent spatial and temporal view of our study areas, year round. The seals moult annually so the tags are to be renewed each year, thereby leading to sustained observations. This approach, and associated logistical operations, could eventually be expanded by others to all major outlet fjords in Greenland. For this project, the focus is only on the Ilulissat and Sermilik ice-ocean fjords because of both the rapid change they have experienced and the logistical advantage of having towns located nearby.

Logistics Summary:
Researchers on this five year project will conduct hydrographic research involving tagging seals with integrated, location-tracking, CTD, and satellite communication instrumentation in two locations in Greenland: the Jakobshavn and Sermilik Fjords. Work began in 2014. A field team of three to six will travel each summer from Ilulissat and Tasiilaq to the field locations via helicopter. Local Greenlandic hunters will undertake the actual capture and release of the seals, and will protect the well-being of the animals. In 2014, a team of three will fly commercially to Ilulissat in early June. Researchers will visit the main Jakobshavn seal colony, travelling there and back via helicopter. In addition to working with locals to capture, tag, and study the seals, the team will collect CTD measurements from a boat; they will compare the boat-supported data with that which they get from the instrumented seals. They will depart Greenland via commercial air. In August, the field team will return via commercial air and continue the work in Tasiilaq, tent camping for one week near the seals. Researchers will return to Ilulissat in late spring/early summer of each year to continue work at the Holland JAV site. At the end of July /August, the team will return and continue work based out of Tasiilaq at the Holland AGM site. In 2016, a team of seven will fly commercially from Iceland to Ilulissat in June and will visit the main Jakobshavn seal colony, travelling there and back via helicopter. In addition to working with locals to capture, tag, and study the seals, the team will collect CTD measurements from a boat; they will compare the boat-supported data with that which they get from the instrumented seals. They will also install radomes on a rock outcrop next to the glacier calving front in order to record glacier motion continuously. This data will be integrated with the ocean temperature data from the tagged seals to better explain how ocean temperatures affect glacier motion. The team will depart Greenland on 24 June via commercial air. In August, a field team of six will return via commercial air and continue the same work in Tasiilaq, positioning GPS on Helheim Glacier to measure glacier speed response to ocean temperature changes, as detected by the seals. In 2017 a team of six will fly commercially from Iceland to Tasiilaq. Researchers will visit the main Helheim seal colony, traveling there and back via helicopter. In addition to working with locals to capture, tag, and study the seals, the team will collect CTD measurements from a boat; they will compare the boat-supported data with data from the instrumented seals. They will also install radomes on a rock outcrop next to the glacier calving front in order to record glacier motion continuously. This data will be integrated with the ocean temperature data from the seal tags to better explain how ocean temperatures affect glacier motion. The team will depart Tasiilaq via commercial air. Mid-August, the field team of six will return via commercial air and continue the same work in Ilulissat, positioning GPS on Jakobshavn Glacier to measure glacier speed response to ocean temperature changes, as detected by the seals. In addition to the research team, four people working with NOVA PBS will travel to the glacier via helicopter (NYU supported). At the end of May 2018, a team of seven will fly from Copenhagen to Ilulissat. They will then fly by helicopter to set up a camp near the Jacobshavn Glacier. Here they will conduct numerous measurements and perform maintenance on the radome monitoring continued glacier motion, located on a rock outcrop next to the glacier calving front. The data will be integrated with the ocean temperature data from the seal tags to better explain how ocean temperatures affects glacier motion. Once the glacier work is complete, the Holland team will collect CTD measurements from a boat where they will be able to compare the boat-supported data with data from the instrumented seals. The team shall depart Ilulissat in mid-June and fly to Tasiilaq where they will partake in the same work positioning GPS on the Helheim Glacier to measure glacier speed response to ocean temperature changes, as detected by the seals. In addition to the research team, six people from NOVA PBS (NSF grant #1713552/Apsell) will also travel to the glacier via helicopter and work along with the Holland team filming for 3 days in early June. In 2019 the Holland field team will fly from Iceland to Ilulissat in early June. They will then fly by helicopter (funded by NYU) to set up a camp near the Jakobshavn Glacier. There they will conduct numerous measurements and perform maintenance on the ground-based interferometric radar that is monitoring glacier motion, located on a rock outcrop adjacent to the glacier calving front. The data will be integrated with the ocean temperature data from the seal tags to better explain how ocean temperatures affects glacier motion. Once the glacier work is complete, the Holland team will collect CTD measurements from a boat where they will be able to compare the boat-supported data with data from the instrumented seals. The team will depart Ilulissat in late-June. In early August the same logistics and science plan will be undertaken based out of Tasiilaq in east Greenland, surveying the Helheim Glacier and the Sermilik fjord, until late August. A team from the BBC may join the research team in August, details are TBD.

CPS will provide ANG airlift for cargo as well as the transport of the freight to the AirGL Hangar where the cargo will be shipped via Comm Air to Ilulissat and Tasiilaq. (All Air GL freight costs will be paid by the Holland project from private NYU funds). CPS will provide storage space in Ilulissat, daily check-in support, camping equipment, and Iridium devices for data transfer and field communications. UNAVCO will provide: 1) replacement wind turbines for those destroyed by a wind storm in the previous year at Helheim Glacier; 2) replacement on-glacier GPS for one lost in a crevasse in the previous year; and 3) radar reflectors to be installed in the radar theater (all instruments from UNAVCO paid thru private NYU funds). PASSCAL will provide replacement balers for USB storage of seismic data for the broadband seismic instruments at the Ilulissat and Tasiilaq sites as the existing balers are faulty. All other logistics, including travel (and media participant travel), helicopter and boat charters will be arranged and paid for by NYU private funds.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2014Greenland - Holland AGM08 / 05 / 2014 08 / 05 / 20143
2014Greenland - Holland JAV06 / 09 / 2014 06 / 09 / 20143
2014Greenland - Ilulissat06 / 07 / 2014 06 / 27 / 20143
2014Greenland - Tasiilaq08 / 04 / 2014 08 / 25 / 20145
2015Greenland - Holland AGM07 / 30 / 2015 07 / 31 / 20152
2015Greenland - Holland JAV06 / 01 / 2015 06 / 03 / 20153
2015Greenland - Ilulissat05 / 29 / 2015 06 / 20 / 20155
2015Greenland - Tasiilaq07 / 29 / 2015 08 / 17 / 20155
2016Greenland - Holland AGM07 / 30 / 2016 07 / 30 / 20166
2016Greenland - Holland JAV06 / 04 / 2016 06 / 04 / 20167
2016Greenland - Ilulissat06 / 01 / 2016 06 / 24 / 20167
2016Greenland - Tasiilaq07 / 27 / 2016 08 / 24 / 20166
2017Greenland - Holland AGM07 / 31 / 2017 08 / 05 / 20175
2017Greenland - Holland JAV08 / 20 / 2017 08 / 24 / 20179
2017Greenland - Ilulissat08 / 17 / 2017 09 / 02 / 20179
2017Greenland - Tasiilaq07 / 29 / 2017 08 / 15 / 20175
2018Greenland - Holland AGM06 / 18 / 2018 06 / 23 / 20185
2018Greenland - Holland JAV05 / 31 / 2018 06 / 05 / 20187
2018Greenland - Ilulissat05 / 29 / 2018 06 / 12 / 20187
2018Greenland - Tasiilaq06 / 14 / 2018 09 / 03 / 20187
2019Greenland - Holland JAV06 / 14 / 2019 06 / 18 / 20198
2019Greenland - Ilulissat06 / 04 / 2019 06 / 20 / 20198
2019Greenland - Tasiilaq08 / 03 / 2019 08 / 20 / 20196
 


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