Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Collaborative Research: Understanding GrIS moulin hydrology and links to ice motion (Award# 1604022)

PI: Gulley, Jason D. (
Phone: (813) 974.0323 
Institute/Department: U of South Florida, School of Geosciences 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ANS
Program Manager: Dr. Cynthia Suchman (
Discipline(s): | Cryosphere |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
The melting of the Greenland ice sheet is not a simple issue of warmer air temperatures melting the surface ice, which then flows into the ocean. Surface meltwater can flow deep into the glacier through natural pipes known as moulins. These subsurface channels not only transmit water to some outlet, where it flows into the ocean, but may also influence the downslope sliding of the glacier toward the ocean. To better understand the controls that govern glacier sliding, the researchers will conduct field and model studies on the Greenland ice sheet. Researchers will instrument a number of moulins with pressure sensors. Glacier velocity will be measured with GPS sensors. Discharge will be monitored through dye tracing. Simulations will be conducted to integrate the observations with a number of simple ‘conduit’ models in the hope of providing a better and more comprehensive understanding of the processes that govern glacier sliding. Beyond the training of graduate and undergraduate students, the researchers will work with a journalism student at the University of Arkansas to produce a documentary about their field experience. This collaboration provides a unique opportunity to communicate to the general public. It is thought that increased channelization reduces subglacial water pressure and acts to buffer the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) against large increases in ice velocity. However, few measurements of water pressure have been made in channelized subglacial drainage systems to test this hypothesis. The researchers will obtain synoptic supraglacial stream discharge data, moulin water level and ice velocity at two moulin sites along an ice flow line in the Paakitsoq Region of the GrIS. Data will be analyzed, and used to parameterize model experiments, to determine the degree to which: 1) local versus regional inputs of melt water control moulin water levels; 2) changes in effective pressure that occur along ice flow paths affect local relationships between subglacial water pressure and ice velocity.

Logistics Summary:
This collaboration between Gulley (1604022, USF) and Covington (1603835, U ARK) will study the large role that moulins have in meltwater delivery to the base of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS). They will examine the hydrological processes in moulins and how they impact relationships between glacier hydrology and ice velocity. Researchers will establish two primary research camps on the GrIS, near Ilulissat during 2017, and three camps during the 2018 mid-summer melt seasons. Low (Thin Ice) Camp will be located ~20 km from the ice margin and High Camp (Thick Ice) will be established near Swiss Camp. The exact locations of each camp will be determined following scouting missions looking for “new” moulins, to be conducted in summer 2017 immediately before the establishment of the camps. In 2018, this project will conduct three field campaigns in the months of April, July/August, and October. For the April visit, a field team of two will conduct helicopter supported day trips to maintain an existing GPS array on the Jakobshavn Glacier. Seven existing stations will be visited and serviced between 27 and 29 April. The two team members will arrive in Kangerlussuaq via the Air National Guard and travel to Ilulissat on commercial air. From late June through late August, a field campaign will be conducted with four field team members occupying Low Camp. From approximately 05 through 15 October, a field team of two will return via commercial air to Ilulissat and conduct day trips via helicopter to service the existing GPS array that was visited in April. Researchers will return in 2019, details are TBD.

CPS will provide Air National Guard coordination for passengers and cargo, in-transit KISS user days, rental truck in Ilulissat, intra-Greenland commercial ticketing/freight between Kangerlussuaq & Ilulissat, shipping of a large amount of science cargo to Ilulissat via commercial air and vessel cargo (June/July), helicopter charters out of Ilulissat, lodging and storage space in Ilulissat, and camp/safety equipment from CPS inventory. UNAVCO will provide dGPS Trimble sites and kinematic roving systems. The PIs will make all other arrangements and pay for them through the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2017Greenland - Gulley High Camp07 / 25 / 2017 10 / 20 / 20174
2017Greenland - Gulley Low Camp07 / 01 / 2017 10 / 19 / 20175
2017Greenland - Ilulissat06 / 25 / 2017 10 / 23 / 20179
2017Greenland - Kangerlussuaq06 / 23 / 2017 10 / 24 / 20179
2018Greenland - Gulley High Camp07 / 25 / 2018 08 / 11 / 20185
2018Greenland - Gulley Low Camp07 / 06 / 2018 07 / 20 / 20184
2018Greenland - Ilulissat04 / 25 / 2018 08 / 29 / 201810
2018Greenland - Kangerlussuaq04 / 01 / 2018 08 / 30 / 201810
2019Greenland - Gulley High Camp04 / 01 / 2019 07 / 21 / 201910
2019Greenland - Gulley Low Camp04 / 01 / 2019 07 / 21 / 201910
2019Greenland - Ilulissat07 / 01 / 2019 07 / 10 / 20192
2019Greenland - Kangerlussuaq07 / 01 / 2019 07 / 10 / 20192

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