Arctic Field Projects



Project Title: An initial investigation of the Greenland perennial firn aquifer (Award# 1311655)

PI: Forster, Richard (Rick) R (rick.forster@geog.utah.edu)
Phone: (801) 581.3611 
Institute/Department: U of Utah, Department of Geography 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ANS
Program Manager: Dr. Henrietta Edmonds (hedmonds@nsf.gov )
Discipline(s): | Cryosphere\Firn-core Drilling |

Project Web Site(s):
Data: http://nsidc.org/
NSF_Award_Info: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardN...

Science Summary:
This EAGER project will conduct the first ever measurements of a newly discovered component of the Greenland Ice Sheet mass balance. The perennial firn aquifer (PFA) stores liquid water in the subsurface firn year-round, including throughout the winter. It was discovered in April 2011, but there were no measurements made within the PFA, thus its volume estimate and even formation process are unknown except for those from modeling. This project will use a wide variety of techniques to provide the first measurements of liquid water storage in the PFA. Density profiles and even simple observations of PFA stratigraphy assessing the relative proportions of firn, water, and solid ice will provide valuable data needed to calculate the unknown mass of the PFA. The project will also be able to identify the best measurement techniques, for further more complete assessment and future monitoring of the PFA, because a suite of measurement technologies will be tested during this field research. This grant is funded through EAGER because these unique drilling and measurement conditions force the research to be conducted in an exploratory manner with some aspects encountering high risk, but with high reward.

Logistics Summary:
This EAGER grant funds two years of research in Greenland. In April 2011, researchers discovered a new water system while drilling firn cores associated with NSF project ARC 0909499 (Forster, PI) in Southeast Greenland. The water system, dubbed a perennial firn aquifer (PFA), represents a previously unknown storage mechanism for water within the Greenland Ice Sheet. The existence of the PFA may change the mass balance and energy models of the ice sheet and thus requires further study. Researchers will visit Greenland during two seasons, 2013 and 2014, to drill through the PFA and to collect measurements. In 2013, researchers will begin early—in April, before the melt season—to observe and measure fundamental characteristics of the PFA, with noted interest in what if any effect/contribution the record melt of 2012 can be detected in the PFA. The team will arrive in Kulusuk at the end of March via commercial air to prepare for the field work. In April, the team will fly via Bell-212 helicopter to camp site "ACT11-A" to set up a drill camp. The team will work at camp for about eight days. Four researchers will work with an IDDO technical expert to drill into and beyond the PFA. They will use logging devices in the borehole to collect stratigraphy, temperature and density information, and then will collect water samples and install instruments to observe the PFA into 2014. The team also will conduct gravimeter and GPR surveys. When the work is completed, the team will depart the field and return to Kulusuk via Bell212. Some researchers will spend several days in Kulusuk preparing project cargo for retrograde to Kangerlussuaq by Twin Otter later in the season. The team will depart via commercial air through Iceland. In March 2014, researchers will continue to explore a new water system dubbed the perennial firn aquifer (PFA), a storage mechanism for water within the Greenland Ice Sheet. The team will arrive in Kulusuk at the end of March via commercial air to prepare for the field work. In April, the team will fly via Bell-212 helicopter to the study site ACT11-A to set up observations. The team of three will work at camp for about 14 days collecting water samples, stratigraphy, and temperature information as well as GPR surveys. They will also replace the two batteries powering the temperature-data-logging system. When fieldwork is complete, the team will depart the field and return to Kulusuk via Bell212. The researchers will spend several days in Kulusuk cleaning up equipment before departing via commercial air through Iceland. Note: In 2015 with funding by NASA, a team of two will return to extract project instruments using the same logistics model as 2014 (details TBD).

For 2013 and 2014, CPS will provide lodging in Kulusuk, helicopter support, camp, communications, and safety gear with shipment to Kulusuk, cargo transport within Greenland after fieldwork (either via Twin Otter or commercial air), fuel, and Air National Guard (ANG) coordination for cargo returning to the U.S. CPS support for 2015 is TBD. All other logistics will be organized by the researchers and paid through the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2013Greenland - ACT11-A04 / 01 / 2013 04 / 09 / 20135
2013Greenland - Kulusuk03 / 20 / 2013 04 / 17 / 20135
2014Greenland - ACT11-A03 / 27 / 2014 04 / 11 / 20142
2014Greenland - Kulusuk03 / 22 / 2014 04 / 16 / 20142
 


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Parameters used to generate this report:, Grant# = "1311655", IPY = "ALL" 
     Number of projects returned based on your query parameters = 1
 
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