It is hard to believe, but today is the last full day at Summit Station and being on the ice sheet. There was a list of items to address today including, Swiss Tower maintenance, BSRN inspection, and digging a backlit snow pit.

We began the day by going out to the Swiss Tower. The hike from the Big House to Swiss Tower is about a ½ mile and is something that you need to plan for because if you forget a tool or piece of equipment, it can set you back an hour or more to go back and get what you forgot.

The walk to Swiss Tower
The walk to Swiss Tower

Koni did a visual inspection of the tower and the scientific instruments mounted on it. We then got to work moving two sets of sensors, one set of sensors measures wind speed and direction and the other set measures temperature.

Looking up at the Swiss Tower
Looking up at the Swiss Tower - Notice the scientific instruments at various levels.

Koni and Simon working on instruments mounted on the Swiss Tower
Koni and Simon working on instruments mounted on the Swiss Tower. We are moving the lower instruments up in preparation for the winter snow accumulation.

After we finished moving the sensors, I decided to construct a backlit snow pit. One of the advantages of a backlit snow pit is that you can see the layering of the snow that occurred over the last two years. Digging two snow pits, side by side, then covering one of the snow pits with a sheet of plywood or some other light barrier make a backlit snow pit. The observer sits in the covered snow pit and can see the sunlight shining through the wall separating the two pits. It is definitely one of the coolest things I have seen, at least since I made my last igloo as a kid!

Scientist collecting clean snow samples
Scientist collecting clean snow samples. These samples will be analyzed in the lab at a later date.

Two snow pits, side by side to create a back-lit snow profile.
Two snow pits, side by side to create a back-lit snow profile.
Second snow pit
Second snow pit - notice how the snow pit must be dug so that the sun light will reach the bottom of the exposed snow pit wall.

Snow pit with plywood cover
Snow pit with plywood cover. The plywood cover will allow the light to shine through the thin snow wall, giving the observer a view of the stratigraphy of the snow.

Back lit snow pit. Notice the distinct layers in the snow.
Back lit snow pit. Notice the distinct layers in the snow.
I have to thank Dorthy, who was kind enough to offer her area to dig a second pit. She was there conducting a study looking at the chemistry of the snow that fell at Summit Station.

Once I was finished with the snow pit project, I slowly walked back to the Big House, trying to take it all in. This would probably be my last time here at Summit Station, so I wanted to enjoy the peacefulness and tranquility of the arctic. The way the sun bounces off of the snow and the cool crisp air is something that is unique to Summit Station.

Tomorrow, we pack up and fly back to Kangerlussuaq. I will miss the ice and everything that goes with it.

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Date
Weather Summary
Clear and cold
Temperature
0
Wind Speed
5
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