Greenland Atmospheric Studies

What Are They Doing?

As snow falls, it carries whatever is in the air with it into the snowpack. Over the past decade, scientists have learned that the chemicals that accumulate in the snow over the long, dark arctic winter react rapidly when they are exposed to the sun in the spring. These sunlight-driven reactions (photochemistry) in snow release a number of pollutants to the lower atmosphere. A team of scientists worked at Summit, Greenland to find out how snow photochemistry affects the composition of the snow and the atmosphere above it by sampling and analyzing reactive chemicals in the snow and in the air, measuring the sunlight in the snowpack, and determining physical properties of the snow.

Where Are They?

The team traveled to Summit Station, located at the peak of the Greenland ice cap atop 3200 meters of ice. Summit is a scientific research station sponsored by the National Science Foundation that supports a diversity of scientific research, including year-round measurements of air-snow interactions that provide crucial knowledge for interpreting data from deep ice cores drilled both at Summit and elsewhere. Learn more about Summit at the Summit Station website.

Expedition Map


September 1, 2008   This is the end…   My wind chapped and sun cracked nose has finally healed.  Family barbeques and fresh garden vegetables are helping me pack the 15 lost pounds back onto my frame.  The heat of summer continues to remind me of cool nights at Summit Camp.   It took a while for me to ease back into life "in the real world”.  The 90 degree difference between Summit Camp, and the heat wave that has engulfed Billings, MT this summer has proved to be the hardest adjustment.  With time (and air conditioning) I am learning to cope with the scorching temperatures.   But…let...
July 14, 2008 – Monday – Finding my way home There’s no place like home… Packing up equipment and long travels have left me weak and worn, but I after 2 nights sleep in a MY BED, I am refreshed once again, and I wanted to take time to fill you in on the trip home! So, settle in, this is fixin’ to be a short novel instead of a journal entry!! July 10, 2008 We were scheduled to leave Summit Camp at 7am, we were all ready to go when we heard that the plane was having mechanical problems in Kanger and wasn’t able to leave on time. Finally, several hours later, the Herc arrived to drag us...
July 12, 2008 - Saturday - Homebound Sorry there has been no communication from me in several days.   I have made it from Summit to Kangerlussuaq to Scotia, NY and now I am finally in the airport in Albany, NY...waiting for the next plane to take me to Minneapolis...then...finally to Billings! I didn't have internet because I was stayng at the Hotel Umimmak in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland instead of the KISS building (Kangerlussuaq International Science Support operated by the US National Science Foundation) to post updates so I will make a short one now from the airport and tomorrow I will...
July 9, 2008 - Wednesday - Saying my Goodbyes We have been breaking down and moving equipment for 17 hours!   In 4 hours, I will be up and readying my gear to leave the ice sheet.  I would write more, but I am worn to the bone. Tomorrow afternoon we should arrive in Kangerlussuaq, I will give a full report of our departure and adventures in Kanger at that time... *I can't believe I am actually leaving after 37 days!!! And, I'll be home in 3 more! * Stay Warm!!
  July 8, 2008 – Tuesday -Teachers at Summit   The next few journals might be a little shorter than usual.  We are feverishly tearing down equipment in order to have everything packed and ready by Wednesday evening.  Katrine and Christine haul the first of MANY pieces of science equipment out of Sat Camp. Today we were lucky enough to welcome several teachers and students from the US, Greenland, and Norway!  They flew in early this morning and were immediately rushed out to Sat Camp so we could give them a tour of all the research projects.  They will stay here for two nights and will...

Expedition Resources

Project Information

Dates: 1 June 2008 to 12 July 2008
Location: Summit, Greenland
Project Funded Title: Radical Chemistry over Sunlit Snow, Summit Greenland

Meet the Team

Craig Beals's picture
Billings Senior High
Billings, MT
United States

Craig Beals has spent countless hours chasing game, camping in the mountains, and fly-casting for rainbow trout while growing up in Montana. These experiences gave him an early appreciation for nature and a passion for the outdoors, which continues today. Upon graduating from Montana State University with a degree in Biology, Mr. Beals took a teaching position at Billings Senior High School to teach Earth Science where he continues to share his fervor for the outdoors and his enthusiasm for science with young people. Mr. Beals also makes sure to enjoy the simple things in life including his family, friends, and beloved dog, “Danger”. He lives by the motto, “If you are going to clap, make some noise”. He hopes that his PolarTREC experience will enable him to be immersed in practical, purposeful science.

Barry Lefer's picture
University of Houston
Houston, TX
United States

Barry Lefer is an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Houston in Texas. He earned an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of New Hampshire and worked at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado before moving to Houston. His research has included several aspects of air quality and climate change. He worked with PolarTREC teacher Jo Dodds at Summit in 2007 and believes that there is nothing better than first hand personal experience to get students involved and excited about science.