Our last day in Kangerlussuaq was exciting. We wanted to experience it all. Brandon got us dinner reservations for the Greenlandic Buffet at the RoKlubben Restaurant. We were interested to try all the unique Greenland delicacies and we weren’t disappointed. But, before I talk about food, let’s start back at the beginning of the day.
We started the morning by driving 1/1 2 hours to the edge of the glacier. When you see it from this perspective, you really can appreciate why a glacier is called a slow moving river of snow and ice!
Ground Level View of the Edge of the Glacier. Photo by Brandon Strellis.
As the glacier moves downhill due to gravity, it scours the ground and pushes the broken bits of rock with it. Can you see the bits of broken rock piling up?
The glacier scours the...
It was sad to leave all the friends we made at Summit Station but I am looking forward to heading home.
Brandon Strellis, Kevin McMahon and Hannah James. Photo by Lance Roth.
Hannah James Climbing Aboard the LC-130.
Our first leg of our journey was to return to Kangerlussuaq. The plane was able to land at Summit on time and we had a smooth takeoff at Summit and a smooth landing on a real runway in Kangerlussuaq.
We were excited to be back in Kangerlussauq. It was a nice change of pace to see different colors besides blue and white.
The landscape of Kangerlussauq. Photo by Brandon Strellis.
We went to the local pizza place and I ordered musk ox pizza. It is like pepperoni pizza except that instead of slices of pepperoni, the pizza is topped with pieces of musk ox. It was delicious....
In today’s journal entry, I wanted to share some of my favorite photos that didn’t make it in my other journal entries.
Did you know that scientists from other countries help each other out and share knowledge. Here is a picture of the flags of Greenland, the United States, and Denmark,
Flags Over Summit Station
Flags Flying Over Summit Station
Summit Station is a camp run be the United States. The flags of Greenland and Denmark are also flying. Did you know that Greenland is a part of the country of Denmark. But, Denmark has allowed the people of Greenland to make their own rules, with Denmark providing some assistance.
The flag of Greenland is beautiful. The disk represents the Sun reflecting off a field of ice. That is a pretty fitting design, don’t you think?
Once a week, the science technicians launch an ozone sensor attached to a helium balloon to measure the amount of ozone in the air. This sensor is called an ozonesonde. This week, our ozone sensor went up 20 miles (or 33 kilometers) into the atmosphere before it popped. All along the way, it was taking important measurements of ozone.
Filling the Balloon with Helium is Only the First Step.
Do you know what ozone is? It is a natural gas that is found in our atmosphere. It can be good or bad, depending on where it is found.
Ozone that is near the ground is not good for people because it helps make smog, which is not healthy.
Ozone that is many miles high in the air is good for people. The ozone high in the air forms a thin shield called the “ozone layer” that blocks some of the Sun’...
Wow, I am worn out. We did a lot of packing today. Much of the time we were outside digging up instruments out of the snow or putting our snow samples into ice core boxes to keep them very cold.
The rest of the time we were inside with the heater cranked up so that we could remove all the snow and ice from the inside of the crates for the science instruments. We then hauled big boxes to the main camp on our banana sleds so that they would be ready for when we leave.
The weather was pretty brutal. We had snow all day and 17 mile per hour winds. It was so windy that a scheduled flight was not able to land.
The highlight of the day was our PolarCONNECT event!
Brandon Strellis, Kevin McMahon, and Hannah James host a PolarCONNECT event from Summit Station.
We talked by satellite phone...
Kevin McMahon holding the last snow sample of the season. Photo by Hannah James.
Today was our last day of sampling. The weather was beautiful. I needed to take 5 snow layer samples today. After sampling, my fingers were quite cold. I did manage to find time to take a picture of Hannah and Brandon taking the last surface snow sample.
Brandon Stellis and Hannah James collecting the last snow sample
I don’t know what I will do in the mornings without our mile walk to our sampling site.
Afterward, we started to pack. It will take us several days to pack everything. Some crates need to go into a “DO NOT FREEZE” area while other crates need to go into the “KEEP VERY VERY FROZEN - minus 20 degrees Celsius” area.
Some of our crates have been totally buried in snow. It is like finding...
Today, we got the chance to share our research with high school students from Denmark, Greenland and the United States. They are part of the Joint Science Education Project (JSEP) and they do field work around Greenland.
Brandon Strellis and some of the JSEP students on top of the Temporary Atmospheric Watch Observatory.
Click on this website to find out more about the Joint Science Education Project and see what type of work that they are doing - http://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/greenland-education-tour-2011
If you know any high school students (especially high school juniors) who might be interested in this program, please forward this link to them. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn about science and meet people from all over the world.
Brandon Strellis and Hannah James...
Today, we continued to collect air and snow samples to learn more about aerosols. After our work, we helped Lance and Kris dig a backlit snow pit. Actually, by the time we arrived, Lance and Kris had already dug the holes! We helped by bringing the plywood to cover one of the holes.
A backlit snow pit is just two deep holes (about seven feet deep) separated by a wall of snow that is about one foot wide. When you get into one hole and cover it up with plywood, you get an amazing view of the snow layers.
Snow layers as seen from a backlit pit
Lance Roth is digging a backlit snow pit.
PolarTREC teacher, Kevin McMahon, points out an interesting snow layer in the backlit snow pit. Photo by Lance Roth.
Even though we had total cloud coverage, it is so bright up here that we still need...
As you know from my earlier journals, we are studying the particles that are floating in the air and also landing on the snow. I have written about how we collect the particles that have landed on the snow surface. This journal entry will be about how we capture the particles floating in the air.
Our collecting starts in “TAWO” – the Temporary Atmospheric Watch Observatory.
The Temporary Atmospheric Watch Observatory (TAWO) at Summit Station, Greenland
On top of building are three air filters that Mike and Brandon installed in May.
Kevin McMahon is changing the air filters on top of TAWO.
Each of these filters captures the particles from the air. One set of filters will come back to Georgia Tech to be analyzed. Another set of these air filters will go to the University of New...
Our camp size has doubled! Journalists and photographers have come to Summit Station for the day and interviewed Brandon, Hannah, and me about the work we are doing at Summit.
I was worried that their flight might get cancelled because it was a foggy morning. The LC-130 plane circled the camp three times in order to get a better view of the skiway. A skiway is just a runway made of snow.
Here is a cool video of their plane landing on the skiway!
That was an awesome landing in foggy conditions.
Loading Supplies into an LC-130 at Summit Station Greenland
Brandon did a great job answering questions as he gave a tour of our snow lab and the work that we are doing on...
Have you figured out the mistake that I made with our tent experiment? I wish you all were here to help me out.
Well, after I finished the experiment yesterday, I wondered if making the tents inside the Tomato (in warm air) affected our results.
Here is the change I made for our second attempt with our experiment. I took the tents outside and opened one side so the cold air got into each tent. Then, I put them in the shade for 20 minutes with the one side kept open.
PolarTREC Teacher, Kevin McMahon, holding a model of a black tent for a 6th grade experiment. Photo by Hannah James.
At 9:20 a.m. I put the tents in the sun and waited 1 ½ hours. I then opened up the tents and wrote down the temperatures inside each tent.
Here are the results:
Yellow Tent = 52 degrees Fahrenheit (or...
Wow, what a beautiful morning. For the last few days, we have had total cloud cover. Finally, we have a sunny day to test our 6th grade experiment!
If you read my July 12, 2011 journal, you know that we were trying to figure out why the tents that we sleep in are yellow and not black.
We had many hypotheses. Many sixth graders thought that the Arctic Oven tents were not black because they would get too hot. I tested this hypothesis today.
Here is what I did.
First, I made a model of a yellow tent and a black tent using black and yellow nylon material.
PolarTREC Teacher, Kevin McMahon, and our 6th Grade Experiment
The models were exactly the same except for the color of the fabric. I wrapped the fabric around a light bulb box. I cut away most of the box so that all that was left...
Good morning! Today is another overcast day but we are expecting good weather tomorrow. It should be the perfect day for a 6th grade experiment.
When Mike Bergin and Brandon Strellis visited Renfroe Middle School in April, Edie in Dr. Parker’s class noticed that the tents that we sleep in are yellow.
Yellow Arctic Oven tents on the Greenland Ice Sheet
She had a great question:
Why are the Arctic Oven tents yellow and not black?
In other words, wouldn’t a black tent be warmer than a yellow tent when you sleep in a cold place like the Greenland Ice Sheet since the color black should absorb more of the Sun's energy?
Awesome question, Edie.
Before trying an experiment, we made some hypotheses:
Many of our 6th graders at Renfroe Middle School thought that the Arctic Oven tents were not...
We are in a good work routine. Every morning, we collect snow samples, check on the air sampling instruments, check to see how much sunlight is reflecting of the snow surface and then head back to the Big House for lunch. After lunch, our snow samples have melted and we pour this water through a filter to trap any particles that landed on the snow.
After our snow samples are melted, Hannah pours this water through a filter.
Do you want to see what we see on the filter after the water passes through it?
Can you see the gray particles on the filter?
We can’t tell what these particles are just by looking at them. We need to take them back to Georgia Tech so that Mike and Brandon can determine what they are. It could take months before they have analyzed all the samples. I can’t wait to...
Good news- the summer storm has passed and the winds are a little lighter today. I thought I would use today’s journal to tell you about some interesting research that is being conducted by a scientist from Denmark named Hans.
Hans wants to find out the answer to this question:
Why are there mountains in Greenland?
If you were in my 6th grade class last year, you know that some mountains are formed along plate boundaries. However, there are no plate boundaries where these mountains are located. So, there must be another reason for these mountains. But, the clues to the answer are hidden under 2 miles of snow and ice.
Hans and his team have many different hypotheses about why there are mountains in Greenland. To test these hypotheses, Hans and his team have traveled 300 km away...
You may remember from a previous journal that our old snow lab was collapsing and we were digging a new snow lab. The snow lab is important because it keeps our snow layer samples and the chemicals that we use to preserve them at a constant -20 degrees Celsius.
We would enter and exit the lab through the “rabbit hole”.
Brandon Strellis pops his head out of the entrance to our old snow lab.
Once inside, people used to be able to stand up straight. However, as you can see by the next photo, the plywood roof to the old snow lab is sagging because of all the snow that has piled up on top of it.
Hannah James working in our old snow lab.
I am glad to report that we finished digging our new snow lab yesterday and have transferred all the samples and supplies from the old lab to the new...
Most of the time, we walk to our satellite camp. It is ½ mile away from the Big House. Today, however, we needed to move some big shipping containers and bring them back to the main camp so we decided to ride on the “Bad Boy”.
The Bad Boy is an electric-powered vehicle that has big tires to help get through the snow. It is like a four-wheel drive golf cart. It is great for pulling sleds full of equipment.
The Bad Boy electric vehicle at Summit, Greenland. Photo by Hannah James.
Hannah James drove us out to our satellite camp. It is a tricky drive. The “road” is just snow that has been packed down from our daily walks. On either side of this path is deep, soft snow. If you step in it, you sink to your knees.
Of course, Hannah did a fabulous job driving. She is from Maine so she is...
Well, I had an amazing evening. After a rough day of dishes and then a quick round of snow golf with Brandon, Quentin, Lance and Hannah, we went to the Science Observation Building to help launch a weather balloon!
I can now officially say that Renfroe Middle School has made its mark on the Greenland Ice Sheet and has blasted off to the stratosphere.
PolarTREC teacher, Kevin McMahon, launching a weather balloon over Summit, Greenland.
In the photo above, you should be able to spot an orange parachute and a small sensor just below my right hand. As the balloon rises, the sensor continuously takes measurements of temperature, pressure, and humidity and sends this information back to a computer on the ground.
Scientists get a snapshot of temperature, pressure, and humidity in the...
Today, it was my turn to be the “House Mouse”. What is the house mouse? It is the person who helps keep the Big House clean. I spent most of the day doing the breakfast dishes, lunch dishes, dinner dishes and all the pots and pans that pile up from all the hungry people who are living at Summit camp. I also vacuumed and mopped the floors.
PolarTREC teacher Kevin McMahon has his hands full as the House Mouse at Summit camp. Photo by Hannah James.
I even got a chance to see the freezer. It is not like the one at your home. It is actually just a big hole in the ground under the Big House. It is very, very cold down there. That is a pretty creative idea and it saves on electricity too.
PolarTREC teacher Kevin McMahon explores the freezer buried under the Big House at Summit camp,...
The weather has been interesting to say the least. At 2:30 p.m., we saw snow flurries that seemed to be falling out of the blue sky.
Do you see the snow flakes falling with the blue sky in the background?
But one hour before that, the snow was really falling heavily. Check out this video to see the snow at Summit camp. If you look closely, you will see Brandon Strellis to the left of the screen in a t-shirt.
Will someone please tell Brandon that he really should be wearing something warmer than a t-shirt because it was -9 degrees Celsius (15 degrees Fahrenheit)?!
We rushed to the Big House around 3:00 because that was when our Fourth of July Barbeque was scheduled to begin. We had been craving hamburgers and hot dogs all morning. When we arrived, a big sign on the door said: “Too Windy – BBQ Tomorrow.”
So, Brandon, Hannah, and I decided that we would have our own Fourth of July celebration.
Even though we couldn’t shoot off fireworks, the Sun cooperated with its own special show.
Kevin McMahon stands inside a halo. Photo by Hannah James.
A halo is a ring around the sun caused by ice crystals in the high cirrus clouds bending the sunlight. Doesn’t it look amazing?
Later in the afternoon, I saw something else amazing. It looked like tiny sparkling diamond flakes falling from the sky. Check out this video to see more...
Our snow lab is collapsing. Over the last month, the wind has blown snow on top of the old snow lab and the roof is starting to cave in. The snow lab is the underground storage area that Brandon and others created in May to store the snow layer samples that we take each morning.
It needs to be super cool so we store our snow layer samples underground. It will take us several days to build.
But the good news is that we have the correct tools. Did you know that there is something called a snow saw. It is awesome. It cuts through the snow like a knife cutting through butter.
Kevin McMahon is cutting out blocks for the underground snow lab. Photo by Hannah James.
We are saving the snow blocks that we are cutting out to make an igloo. We aren’t exactly sure how to do it, so we...
Collecting snow layer samples is another job that we do each day. It is a pretty simple process to collect it, but how will we get it home without it melting?
The first step is to dig a hole in the shape of a rectangle that is about 2 feet deep. We then place a small plastic container in one side of the hole.
Kevin McMahon is collecting a snow layer sample from the Greenland Ice Sheet. Photo by Hannah James.
Now that our sample is trapped in the plastic container, we cut it out with a saw.
Kevin McMahon is using a saw to remove a snow layer sample from the Greenland Ice Sheet. Photo by Hannah James.
We now have a snow layer sample to take home. But how do we stop it from melting?
Kevin McMahon with a snow layer sample. Photo by Hannah James.
The final step is to pour a liquid...
The view is beautiful as we sample snow each morning. We travel about ½ mile from our satellite camp to get to our sampling location. We gather up our collection jars and load it in a sled. We take turns dragging the sled.
Kevin McMahon enjoys the beauty of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Photo by Hannah James.
As you read in my last journal entry, we are looking at aerosols (or tiny particles) that are floating in the air and falling on the snow.
Kevin McMahon is collecting snow samples that will later be tested for elemental carbon and organic carbon. Photo by Hannah James.
We then take the samples back to the Tomato so that the snow can melt. Once we have liquid water, we pour the water over a filter to trap any small particles. These filters will go back to Georgia Tech to be analyzed...
Now that we are settled into camp, it is time to do some science! The purpose of this journal entry is to introduce you to our team and to explain what we are hoping to learn.
First, our Summit team consists of myself, Brandon Strellis from Georgia Tech and Hannah James, a recent college graduate from St. Lawrence University. Of course, Mike Bergin is here with us in spirit. Mike and Brandon came to Summit camp for the month of May and we are continuing the work that they started.
Hannah James and Brandon Strellis checking out how much sunlight is reflecting off the snow surface.
Why are we on the Greenland ice sheet?
We are collecting data about aerosols. These are tiny particles that are floating in the air. These particles are so small that we can’t see them floating...
This site is supported by the National Science Foundation under award 0956825. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this site are those of the PIs and coordinating team and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.