Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Dynamic Observations of the Evolution of Firn (Award# 1603239)

PI: Baker, Ian (
Phone: (603) 646.2184 
Institute/Department: Dartmouth College, Thayer School of Engineering 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ANS
Program Manager: Dr. Marc Stieglitz ( )
Discipline(s): | Cryosphere |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
One important factor that controls ice sheet melt is its physical properties. Using modern microstructural characterization techniques, the PI will determine the mechanisms of ice core densification and microstructure evolution as a function of depth. An 80 meter firn core will be drilled at Summit, Greenland, and transported to Dartmouth College. For the shallow part of the core, where the firn is subjected to seasonal and diurnal temperature gradients, the PI will impose Greenlandic in situ temperature gradients at the core boundaries. Continuous X-ray micro-computed tomography (microCT) will be used to monitor densification and microstructure evolution. For the deep part of the core, a Greenlandic in situ temperature gradient does not exist over the length of the core. However, it does experience stresses from the weight of the overburden. The PI will therefore conduct in situ loading experiments on the deep core. Continuous microCT will be used to monitor densification and microstructure evolution. After the completion of the microCT experiments, the firn will be sectioned and examined in a cold-stage-equipped scanning electron microscope. Electron backscattering and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy will be used to determine ice crystal orientations and local microchemistry.

Logistics Summary:
Researchers on this project intend to determine the mechanisms of firn densification and microstructural evolution as a function of depth using dynamic observations of the evolution of the firn using X-ray computed microtomography. The field team will drill an 80 m firn core (approx. pore-close-off depth), at Summit Station, Greenland and transport it to Dartmouth. A team of five (two researchers, two IDDO drillers and one teacher) will deploy to Summit for ~3 weeks during June 2017 to obtain the 80m of firn core. PolarTREC teacher, Steve Kirsche (0630463SK) will join the field team. They will base out of Summit and travel via snow machine approximately 6km West from the station on a daily basis for drill operations. IDDO will also be drilling 2” diameter test cores with a new drilling system.

CPS will provide Air National Guard coordination for passengers and cargo, Summit Station user days, KISS user days, snowmachines and fuel, a generator, communications / safety gear and Summit science technician support. IDDO will provide a drill system, drilling structure, and two drillers. The PI will make all other arrangements and pay for them through the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2017Greenland - Kangerlussuaq06 / 03 / 2017 06 / 29 / 20175
2017Greenland - Summit06 / 05 / 2017 06 / 23 / 20175

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