Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Collaborative Research: Petermann Gletscher, Greenland - Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology (Award# 1418053)

PI: Mix, Alan Campbell (
Phone: (541) 737.5212 
Institute/Department: Oregon State University, College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ANS
Program Manager: Dr. Henrietta Edmonds ( )
Discipline(s): | Geological Sciences | Oceanography |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
This project will take a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the response of Petermann Glacier in northern Greenland to climate change in the past. Petermann Glacier drains a significant fraction of the northern Greenland ice sheet and terminates in a large floating ice shelf that is sensitive to ice-ocean interactions. Ice retreat over the last decade opens access to the fjord and presents an opportunity to understand sedimentation processes under the area previously covered by ice shelf and to calibrate reconstructions of past ice shelf variations. Using a variety of technologies and approaches on land, ice, and at sea, the investigators will map the bottom of the fjord in front of and under the ice shelf; reconstruct ocean conditions and their role in ice shelf variations through time; reconstruct the past extent of the glacier on land and the floating ice shelf; and reconstruct local relative sea level. Together these efforts will create a comprehensive picture of the climate conditions and response of the Petermann Glacier to these conditions over the last 10,000 years. Of key interest will be the timing, extent, rates of change, and variability (on land and in the sea) during the early Holocene when local relative sea level was over 100 meters higher than today (due to lagging isostatic rebound of the crust in response to deglaciation), but the inland ice sheet was still large relative to today. The investigators will address dynamic responses to multiple interacting variables over a range of response times (from tens to thousands of years) relevant to potential future impacts. The project will support several young investigators and will provide them with both ship and land-based training experiences. The project includes significant international collaborations, with substantial in-kind contributions from non-U.S. sources that add value to the project. Planned outreach includes teacher participation in the field program and meaningful classroom involvement at several levels.

Logistics Summary:
Researchers participating in this collaboration between Mix (1418053, OSU), Mayer (1417787, UNH) and Jennings (1417784, CU) will conduct extensive ice-ocean interaction studies in the Petermann Glacier region of northern Greenland to describe the response of the glacier to past climate change. The 3-year study focuses on timing, extent, rates of change, and variability (on land and sea) during the early Holocene when refinement of relative sea level was higher but the Greenland Ice Sheet was still large. A team of up to 58 participants will conduct fieldwork in the Nares Strait and Petermann Fjord in late summer 2015. Work will be conducted off of a U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and Swedish Polar Research Secretariat (SPRS) jointly funded cruise aboard the Swedish I/B Oden. The Oden will be equipped with two A350 helicopters which will be utilized to deploy three land based science teams. All other science operations are marine based. Studies will include: multibeam bathymetry and sub-bottom geophysical survey, sediment coring, water sampling for paleo proxy calibration, hot water drilling on the ice shelf for water and sediment sampling, as well as sampling glacial moraines and erratics and paleo-sea level deposits. Cargo will board and disembark the Oden at Landskrona, Sweden. The separate home institutions will arrange shipment via commercial carrier. Samples retrieved during the cruise will be stored in a shipping container aboard the Oden and carried back to Landskrona, Sweden, where they will be shipped by commercial carrier to the appropriate home institutions. Some representative samples will be unloaded and transported home with the science party. Science personnel will board and disembark the Oden at Thule Air Force Base in Greenland. Participants from the United States will travel to/from Greenland via Air National Guard flights between New York and Kangerlussuaq. International science personnel will travel via commercial air to Kangerlussuaq. From Kangerlussuaq the entire science party will be transported to/from Thule by ANG C-130 missions. In association with this project the NSF will also facilitate two Oden crew change-out(s) at Thule via ANG flights. The NSF-funded STARC (Ship-based Science Technical Support in the Arctic) group will provide consultation and planning services focused on ship operations as well as seagoing technical personnel to assist with marine based science operations and at-sea logistic support and coordination.

CPS will provide dedicated ANG support/coordination between New York and Kangerlussuaq for US participants and between Kangerlussuaq and Thule for all participants; assistance with vessel port call; in-transit lodging at Kangerlussuaq; camping and communication equipment; and subcontract assistance for Bearwise training, Marine Mammal Observer requirements, and Nunavut required outreach. The CPS project manager will be positioned in Thule during port calls to coordinate CPS support and local assistance. All other logistics will be organized by the researchers and paid through the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2015Arctic Ocean and Seas - Nares Strait07 / 28 / 2015 09 / 03 / 201596
2015Greenland - Kangerlussuaq07 / 28 / 2014 09 / 05 / 2015100
2015Greenland - Petermann Gletscher07 / 28 / 2015 09 / 03 / 201565
2015Greenland - Thule07 / 28 / 2015 09 / 04 / 201597

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