We started our day with a general overview of the science done at Summit Station by Sandy Starkweather, station manager. She gave us a thorough background of the importance of the research done at this high elevation research facility. Under the Joint Committee Agreement, the U.S., Danes and Greenlanders work together to promote science, education, tourism and stewardship of Greenland. The Summit Station is a unique facility given the high elevation, clean air and environment as a resource for the entire polar science community.
Researcher Brie Van Dam from the University of Colorado and Louisa Kramer, Michigan Tech then gave us information about their projects with the FLUX station here at Summit; Flux and Mid-Latitude OzoneOzone is a molecule made up of three atoms of oxygen. Ozone occurs naturally in the stratosphere and provides a protective layer shielding the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. In the troposphere (the lower layer of the atmosphere up to approximately 15 km above the earth's surface), it is a chemical oxidant, a greenhouse gas, and a major component of photochemical smog. Flux and Chemistry. Brie described flux as being the amount of something that moves through a given area during a given time, giving the example of heat flux.
In Brie's example she talked about the greenhouse gas, ozone. With the surface of the ground as a reference point, she considers the concentration of ozone above the surface (40-50ppm) and below the surface (10ppm). Her studies look at the amount of flux (amount of ozone) through the surface.
Louisa talked about the ozone and the atmosphere. When the ozone is in the troposphere it's a greenhouse gas. Her studies involve the sampling of nitric oxides and ozone to determine the formation of the gas. Brie and Louisa showed us photos of the instrumentation we would see later in the afternoon.
Our morning then turned to a hands-on inquiry of ice cores and students were able to take a close up look at some older discarded cores. Steve made orange juice and poured it over the ice cores and we listened for sounds of the bubbles- gases trapped in the ice being released. Students were able to gather around the table to look at the ice, feel it, take photos and taste it in their orange juice. We also investigated iced coffee and other liquids that were warmer and made it easier to hear the bubbles.
We were able to watch a movie on the GISP 2 project - Greenland Ice Sheet Project. The movie presented some information that has since been updated but gave us a background for the coring project that reached bedrock on July 1, 1993. Conversations and insights about the information from the ice cores led us into the lunch time break.
After lunch we split up into two groups with one group walking to the Flux Station for information from Brie and Louisa, and the other to the TAWO (temporary atmospheric watch observatory) building for information from Lana and Steve about the weather data. Both stations had interactive activities for the students to do to help build understanding of the science happening here on the ice sheet at Summit.
After a cookie break Dan towed us out with the snow machine via a sled to the Danish Meteorological Institute's site and we got to see them set up the last of their instruments on a tower. Peter towed us back for a mini-lesson from Steve on what's coming up for tomorrow - snow sampling, learning about snow density and a preview of the snow pit investigations we would be doing tomorrow.
The students got a huge treat after dinner - they were invited to join staff on an adventure with snow machines. They had the opportunity to ride out to the 3 mile marker used for visibility in reporting the weather. There are polar bear shaped markers that the crew at Summit designed for this area to the north. The students were super excited to have this time on machines and they came back into the Big House with huge grins and rosy cheeks!
The evening presentation was given by Joe, Peter and Dan about their home and school in Niskayuna, New York. We learned about the New York area as well as the areas in Arizona where they have been able to go on field trips in early spring.
Hennig Thing then gave a presentation on IPY as well as related stories from his experiences in polar research over the many years. Henning has been an important resource on our team this year, providing scientific information as well the historical significance of polar exploration.