Midnight Sunset at "Camp 2" -- 12 May 2013

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Weather colder than last year and everything takes longer than planned

SMS from sat phone 29 April

"hi j, yesterday [28 April] 3 coffee cans [compaction sensors] installed, KAN_U weather station serviced and IMAU snow drift sensors taken down. productive but cold and windy. Today Mark [of IMAU] and I [Dirk] drove to KAN_M and S9 while the others [Horst, Babis, Liam] drilled the 2nd core and do a GPR [Ground Penetrating Radar] line. Weather colder than last year and everything takes longer than planned but spirits ar"

I think the SMS reached the character limit.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

First core out and compaction sensor installed

Text message this morning from late yesterday:

First firn/ice core out today! 18 m, Babis–Liam drilling, Horst – Dirk logging. Coffee cans installed by Mike. Moderate weather conditions, morale real high! Celebration with MuskOx stew by Liam and red wine! cheers, Babis

Friday, April 26, 2013

varied and challenging weather as the traverse begins

The Arctic Circle Traverse is now already to its first destination; KAN_U...
Arctic Circle Traverse 2010 photo. J. Box

I just heard from the team by satellite phone. The first 2 days were extremely cold, they guess as low as -40 C (same as F). They asked me to check the weather from the nearby DYE-2 automatic weather station (AWS) that transmits data to a web interface developed by N. Bayou in Colorado. Here's the data...

DYE-2 automatic weather station (AWS) data. I installed this station in 1996.
The data from the DYE-2 automatic weather station confirm the story Dirk relayed by phone; COLD on arrival, once arriving to KAN_U after 65 km traverse (taking the better part of a day) it was very windy. Hourly average wind above 10 m/s is plenty of wind to drift snow. The wind calmed and was followed by snowfall.

The last I heard on the phone was that "the GEUS weather station..." CALL DROP [was running?] I really hope so. 

I also learned that the SMS I had sent replying to that I received did not make it. So, the SMS communicaitons seem one-way unless we text using the Iridium web site.

Today is Horst's birthday. He is celebrating by having a cold, literally and figuratively. Get well Horst!

blogging one for the team - Jason Box

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Geologic Survey of Greenland and Denmark (GEUS)

  • Dirk van As, Senior Scientist
  • Horst Machgurth, Postdoc
  • William Colgan (Liam), Postdoc
  • Charalampos Charalampidis (Babis), PhD student

Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado at Boulder, USA

  • Mike MacFerrin PhD student
  • Karen Alley PhD student
  • Alex Crawford PhD student

Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU)

  • Mark Eijkelboom, technician

Camped here. Really cold.

Satellite phone SMS received from the field team arriving camp Raven

"arrived yesterday [23 April] 1600 at DYE-2. Late due to Air Force delay. Camped here. Really cold. dunno temp or chill factor. about to depart for kan u today. cheers babis"

Camp Raven is beside DYE-2 radar station abandoned c. 1988. Photo. Bob Hawley

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dirty Cold

We wake up on put-in morning and check the Greenland Climate Network (GC-Net) real-time weather feed from our initial destination on the ice sheet (Dye-2)'s almost -39 C. That's pretty much the point where the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales are equal. Ugh...

GC-Net real-time data from Dye-2 and other stations can be viewed here.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Not much to do today. Everything has been checked and double-checked. Liam arrived also today and the group is ready for our planned departure tomorrow. The big question mark is the weather. Overcast conditions prevented our planned helicopter flight today to KAN_L, the lowest of the weather stations on the ice sheet, and it will have to be maintained later in May. At least, we were able to perform maintenance to KAN_B in the proglacial region and accessible by car. Hopefully, the weather will get clear until tomorrow and will allow us to catch our flight to DYE-2. In the meantime, here are some pictures from last year's SPLAZ campaign posted last year by Mike:;f=953107219;t=9991157254

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Never Enough Time

It's nearly midnight here at the KISS station.  The sun has finally set and twilight encompasses Kangerlussuaq.  Still feeling the tail end of jet lag, we sit in the lounge downstairs sharing beers with fellow researchers and telling bad stories with good laughs.  One thing I've always noticed in the field... there's not a person in the room--even in preparation before we leave--who doesn't love their job right now.

I arrived in Kangerlussuaq yesterday evening with the 109th NY Air National Guard, having earned a cherished seat on one of their C-130 Hercules flights (not a bad way to fly... a bit loud but well made-up-for with the coolness factor).  After a couple-hour delay waiting on aircraft repairs in New York, we finally got ourslves off the ground from Stratton AFB and with a quick stop in Goose Bay, Newfoundland we arrived about 7 hours after takeoff at Greenland's biggest airport, just in time for dinner in Kanger.
Our C-130 at Stratton Air Force Base

Settling in on the plane

First glimpses of Greenland from the C-130
Around breakfast the GEUS guys received good news from home... their polar suits finally (miraculously?) made it through customs in Copenhagen, and will arrive with us when Liam joins the team on Monday.  Dodged a bullet there.  We spent the morning concentrating on food.  I'd shipped approximately half our food up from the States which we laid out in the NSF warehouse and combined with odds and ends left over in various boxes from last year's field campaign.  I calculated we would need about 260 kg (~550 lb) food to survive on the ice.  We were still short ~130 kg.  Knowing how much to get is easy... with a million items laying around us, exactly "what to get" proves a harder question.  After a round of musk-ox burgers at the airport cafeteria and a ridiculously expensive trip to the local supermarket, we spent the afternoon working the kinks out of our GPR (ground penetrating radar) system, inspected our snowmobiles, set up half the tents, and tracked down the rest of the inifinite minutia one might need for a month on the ice (second stove... more gear straps for the sleds... anyone have a DC plug to charge a 12V battery from a gas generator?).  After a productive day in town we're feeling confident in our progress but still wearily aware of what's left to do before beginning our traverse.  With only 1.5 days left, it'll be tight.

Tomorrow, a couple of the GEUS guys leave to maintain one of the lower weather stations in front of the Russell Glacier (KAN_B), and I'll spend my afternoon testing all my intstruments and Iridium transmitters to ensure everything survived shipping and still works.  It really doesn't matter how much we prepare for a journey like this... in the end there's never quite enought time to get everything done.  "Do the best you can" is a mantra every field member learns early to live with.

Last sip for the night... most the team is off to bed already and I'd better follow if I'll be productve tomorrow.  Good night from the Arctic Circle... the sun rises early again for us tomorrow!

- Mike

(p.s. -- to Barbara: Love you babydoll!)

Day 2

Friday, April 19, 2013

A draft logo

We enlisted the talents of Joe Immen to create a logo for our traverse. Naming the traverse "Arctic Circle Traverse" continues a tradition begun in 2004 by Joe McConnell who similar to this traverse begun a traverse at Camp Raven (next to DYE-2). Naming ground traverses near the Arctic Circle ACT traverses became a tradition in 2010 when two more years of traverse were made. This traverse in year 2013 continues the tradition.

Here is a sketch that emerged after two iterations.

Here's some color added to the black and white logo that Joe provided.

The right arrow indicates melt water flow on top of an internal ice layer in the snow. An objective of this campaign is to measure the thickness and other properties of the 2012 and earlier melt layers.

Day 1 in pictures

And so... Kangerlussuaq!

Almost 19:00 here at the moment and its probably a good time for a couple of beers! One year later, after last year's SPLAZ campaign (Snow Processes in the Lower Accumulation Zone), we set our feet once again back in the cold and white Kanger. Horst, Dirk, Mark and myself (Babis) arrived at around 2pm local time. We are waiting for Mike to arrive from the U.S. with the last flight for today in approximately one hour from now. With him here, we complete the group of people that participated also in last year's expedition (Dirk, Horst, Mike, Babis). I guess it is nice to blog a bit now that we have ourselves the opportunity to do so, since after Tuesday, when we will be on the ice sheet, we will text stuff once per day and Jason will do that for us.
First thing we did upon arrival was to settle down at the KISS facility (Kangerlussuaq International Science Support). We met Kathy from KISS who has already taken care of a lot of stuff for us and has provided us with a briefing and also plan Bs (sometimes even plan Cs) for yet unsettled things like our scooter overalls still stuck at some post office somewhere in Copenhagen. Pleasant surprise and a great assistance! We got a truck so we can move around, located our cargo that arrived here last week and started checking out things in the preparation checklist, trivial but vital parts for our expedition. Me and Horst checked if all the tends were complete and robust, while Dirk sorted out the food from last year that can still be used. Kind of boring tasks, but we had also some fun checking our steam drill. I had never used that before and its quite nice the feeling of drilling through thick ice like butter!
I guess the biggest challenge for tomorrow, besides the inspection of the whole equipment, will be... shopping! Five guys in a supermarket trying to pile up food for a month... Right. I am so glad last year Faezeh took care of all the shopping with accurate and precise (Ninja!) moves in the shopping center here in just half an hour. I can totally see the five of us tomorrow starring at the pasta for 20 minutes unable to decide whether we should get spaghetti or penne.
That's it for now, I think. My beer is probably getting warm and I should get back to it! Besides, photos are a bit more interesting than my blabbering and this will happen later by Horst who used quite a bit - even in this first day - his notorious Ice-Ice-Leica! Cheers!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Follow us!

We do have two so called "bread crumb tracker" devices with us that submit our position every 15 min. You can check out our current location on:

Cold cold cold

Can't say it will be a pleasant experience at 25 C below freezing!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Investigation area

Planned transects on the ice sheet

It's all about melting snow ...

Being a group of six scientists we'll head off  to Kangerlussuaq, western Greenland, on April 19. Our team aims at recording and studying the traces that the recent warm summers left on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet. One year ago we found indicators of changes due to increasing summer-melt at one particular location; this year we are going back to perform more detailed measurements over a much larger area.

We will be working on the ice sheet for one month in varying teams: From April 23 to May 7 Mike, Mark, Dirk, Babis, Liam and Horst will perform the investigations while a smaller team of four (Mike, Karen, Alex and Horst) will continue working on the ice during the second period from May 7 to May 23.

Our work will take place in the middle of the ice sheet between 50 to almost 300 km away from its margins. We will travel larger distances using Skidoos and en route we will stop frequently to drill so called firn cores. Measuring various parameters in these cores of about 15 m length will tell us how the near surface layers of the ice sheet have changed under the impact of the recent sequence of very warm summers.

Apart from drilling numerous firn cores we will use other techniques such as ground penetrating radar to look down into the snow and learn about its structure and the traces summer melt left behind. Finally we will use the opportunity of being there and maintain a set of existing installations on the ice, including a total of four weather stations and various other measuring devices.