Summit Station Science Summit

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Arlington, VA, 28–29 March 2017

The Summit Station Science Summit (or the “Summit Summit”) was supported and hosted by the National Science Foundation.  At this meeting a multidisciplinary group of scientists reviewed Summit Station science, defined the leading research questions for Summit, and made community-based recommendations on future science goals and science-enabling future scenarios and governance for Summit.

Summit Station, in the center of the Greenland ice sheet is a vibrant interdisciplinary research hub that has served as a crucial component of the Arctic observing system for nearly three decades.  The scientific yields from this unique and important site are numerous and ongoing, but the operation of remote stations is resource intensive, requiring strategic planning and scientific vision to remain at the cutting edge of scientific research.

A report highlighting the findings and recommendations is available: Summit-Summit-Report.

 

NSF Vision for Research Support & Logistics at Summit Station

Summit Station will become an efficient, flexible observing platform supporting seasonal campaigns for research and training as well as a variety of research fields utilizing state-of-the-art technology to enable year-round measurements made autonomously or with minimal human presence.

Background: Summit Station will remain an important polar research station contributing to an arctic network of observations and supporting cutting-edge research in a variety of disciplines by international teams, as well as providing a training platform for next generation research scientists. Observations at Summit Station contribute to a broad scientific understanding of the atmosphere and cryosphere including: tracking atmospheric pollution and Arctic-wide transport, snow chemistry, air-snow interactions, weather prediction, understanding changes in the Arctic climate system, the surface mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet, and the physics of snow and ice. Research involving observations of the atmosphere, cryosphere, space weather, particle physics, seismology of the ice sheet, and astronomy and astrophysics is potentially transformative and improves our understanding of the Earth, the influence of the Sun on Earth’s atmosphere, and the origins of the Universe. Building on more than thirty years as a research site, Summit Station is anticipated to continue to serve as a platform for these studies and as a test bed for new sensors and technology designed for remote operation or autonomous exploration in isolated regions and harsh environments. Continued improvements in communications technology will soon allow for scientists and the public to fully participate in experiments and events at Summit Station from anywhere.

Summit Station will be maintained, augmented, and upgraded as a research support and infrastructure hub subject to available funds and successfully competed NSF science projects as well as research funded by other U.S. and International organizations, as appropriate. The vision includes the following objectives:

  • Preserve Summit Station’s clean air and snow sectors for science investigating processes in the coupled atmosphere – cryosphere – climate systems, while also providing and allocating space for science not reliant on pristine air and snow
  • Continue to serve as a platform for training next generation scientists

To achieve this vision, we will:

  • Develop a flexible site with facilities that meet changing requirements through designs aimed towards efficiency and safety that allow for easy reconfiguration of space and autonomous operation of heat, energy, and other requirements, including the capability to safely and easily winterize all infrastructure for unmanned periods and subsequently reactivate it
  • Provide scalability to allow for future project additions or reductions, depending on the demands of the NSF science community
  • Implement systems that allow for autonomous data collection
  • Develop the capability to support funded research during unmanned periods

 

 

Scientific Vision for Summit Station, Greenland

Artist’s conception of a future Summit Station, including renewable energy (wind and solar), elevated, modular buildings, and moveable ground structures that scale to the population.

Over the coming decades, research conducted at Summit Station will provide unique insights into Arctic-wide and global climate processes and answer transformative science questions about the role of the Greenland Ice Sheet in the global climate system. Summit will remain the only high altitude, high latitude, inland, year-round observatory in the Arctic. Summit offers immediate access to the free troposphere and is relatively free of local influences that could corrupt atmospheric observations. As such, it is ideally suited for studies aimed at identifying and understanding long-range, intercontinental transport and its influences on the ice sheet surface, boundary layer, and overlying atmosphere. The pristine and remote location in a year-round dry snow and ice region provides an optimal facility for energy and surface mass balance, radiation measurements, and remote sensing validation studies. Summit is also a prime site for astronomy and astrophysics research due to its high altitude and dry, stable atmosphere.

Summit is the site of the GISP2 ice core, a 3053m ice core drilled down to bedrock in 1993 with high-resolution samples of the atmosphere dating back 140,000 years before present, against which atmospheric and meteorological observations extending from 1989 to the present can be compared and understood. Summit, amid changes in the climate both in the Arctic and across the globe, will become a critical, perhaps the sole, comparison site in the northern hemisphere for studies of large-scale climate processes. Operated as a minimalist research station hundreds of miles from any settlement, it will remain free of local and regional pollution for decades to come. Maintaining the pristine nature of Summit is of upmost importance to continue highly sensitive observations of the atmosphere and snow. Current and planned efforts to reduce local impacts include maintenance of clean air and clean and undisturbed snow zones, deployment of clean, renewable energy sources and development of efficient, autonomous scientific instrumentation in energy-efficient structures. Placing camp structures on elevated, jackable platforms, reducing the overall footprint of the station, and decreasing aircraft transport to Summit will reduce the impact of station operations on the site while also reducing operational costs and gaining efficiency.

Investigations into tropospheric chemistry, snow chemistry, air-snow exchange, cloud physics, and climate processes will remain prominent, with research activities expanding in seismology, space weather, particle physics, atmospheric physics, astronomy, and astrophysics. Summit will serve as a test bed for new technology designed for remote operation and remote sensing in harsh environments. Core scientific values of Summit as a research facility are to provide:
• A platform that allows collection of the highest quality observations to answer key questions about climate processes in the northern hemisphere,
• Year-round observations of key climatic and atmospheric variables that are changing and also driving change in Greenland, the Arctic, and the entire northern hemisphere,
• Access to a pristine, year-round, and one of a kind research location for transformative, interdisciplinary research across a range of scientific fields, while being representative of much of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
• A platform for training next generation scientists
The scientific vision for Summit in the coming decades is for it to become a pre-eminent polar research site integrated into an arctic network of observatories and supporting cutting edge research across disciplines. Achieving this goal will require collaboration, innovation, creativity, and a commitment to development of the station to a more efficient, modular, and flexible platform, while maintaining a clean air sector for atmospheric measurements, limiting fossil fuel consumption, and moderating resource use and activity at the site. The coming challenge is to maintain the unique characteristics of Summit. Expanding multi-disciplinary, multi-agency, and international scientific research in the Arctic and at Summit specifically requires increased cooperation and communication among agencies and research communities.

2 August 2017
The Science Coordination Office (SCO) for Summit Station and the Greenland Traverse

The Science Coordination Office (SCO) for Summit Station and the Greenland Traverse (GrIT) is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF Award #1042531). This document includes input from the NSF Geoscience Directorate, Office of Polar Programs, Arctic Sciences Section. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Summit Users Group Meeting Fall AGU San Francisco

Dear Summit Station Research Community,

You are invited to a Summit Station users group meeting Weds, Dec. 16 in the ARCUS meeting room complex (Foothill D room) from 8:30-9:30am.

We will discuss updates for the Greenland telescope, the Greenland Inland Traverse (GrIT), and incorporation of Summit into INTERACT, a planned external review of logistical support for Greenland science, and logistical needs for science support for 5-10 years out. We are hoping to leave ample time for discussion and questions.

 

Thanks, Zoe Courville, Jack Dibb, John Burkhart and Bob Hawley (SCO)

Summit-Isi Station Vision

Design for the future of Summit-Isi. Artist’s rendering of the design for the Atmospheric Watch Observatory (AWO), for use at the Summit Observatory. The energy efficient, aerodynamic design maximizes flexibility to suit the ever-changing needs of scientific research. Features include hydraulic, jackable legs to minimizing snow drifting and accumulation, highly insulated glass fiber cladding and integrated photovoltaic arrays.

Design for the future of Summit-Isi. Artist’s rendering of the design for the Atmospheric Watch Observatory (AWO), for use at the Summit Observatory. The energy efficient, aerodynamic design maximizes flexibility to suit the ever-changing needs of scientific research. Features include hydraulic, jackable legs to minimizing snow drifting and accumulation, highly insulated glass fiber cladding and integrated photovoltaic arrays.

Over the coming decades, Summit-Isi Station provides a unique capability to measure, monitor, and understand global climate change. Summit-Isi is the only high altitude, high latitude, inland, year-round monitoring station in the Arctic. Summit-Isi is also a prime site for astronomy and astrophysics observations due to its high altitude, dry and stable atmosphere, and relative ease of access with respect to other polar locations. Summit-Isi provides access to northern hemisphere viewing angles for astonomy observations, as well as long baselines to other sub-millimeter telescope arrays across the globe, important for interferometry measurements. Summit-Isi offers immediate access to the free troposphere and is relatively free of local influences that could corrupt climate records. As such, it is ideally suited for studies aimed at identifying and understanding long-range, intercontinental transport and its influences on the ice sheet surface, boundary layer, and overlying atmosphere. The pristine and remote location in a year-round dry snow and ice region provides an optimal facility for radiation measurements and remote sensing validation studies.  Read More: Summit-Isi_Vision

Summit Users Meeting at Fall AGU in San Francisco

Dear Colleagues,

The Science Coordination Office for Summit Station will host an open
meeting of Summit Station users at the Fall AGU meeting in San
Francisco.

Date and Time: Thursday, December 18, 2014, 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Location: Foothill D on the 2nd floor of the San Francisco Marriott
Marquis (55 4th Street)

At the meeting, we will present a brief overview of recent Summit
Station long range planning developments and have an open discussion
and question session.

Hope to see many of you there.

Meeting information:
http://www.arcus.org/communitymeetings/agu/2014/schedule/two

Summit-Isi Newsletter Autumn 2014

The Summit-Isi Summer 2014 closed a few months ago, and the winter-over crew has now settled in. It’s perhaps a most quiet time at Summit, but a most-active period for the researchers working at the station. It’s time to provide some news on station developments and a review of the summer season activities.

Important Upcoming Dates

Note your calendars… AGU is approaching rapidly. The Science Coordination Office is awaiting confirmation from ARCUS as to whether we’ll have a room for a community meeting. We still haven’t heard, but know that several members of the SCO (John, Jack, and Zoe) will be at AGU this year. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding updates and activities at Summit.

The GEOSummit 2015 meeting will be held in coordination with NOAA’s Global Monitoring Annual Conference in Boulder, Colorado. The exact dates are not set, but we will be sending out an announcement soon.

Summit Station GIS

The Science Coordination Office released a first version of the Summit GIS. The intent of the GIS system is to gather information on activities at Summit both for the purposes of data discovery, but also to keep a record of snow disturbance at the station. All projects conducting work at the station will from hereon be required to work with the station techs to provide coordination information on where activities have taken place. This information includes the location of snow pits, boreholes, snow mobile tracks, and any other disturbance to the snow pack that could impact future observations. We are also working to gather historic information, and have started to put this into the GIS. Researchers are strongly encouraged to submit locations (ideally with Metadata) to the SCO (email directly to John).

Research Highlights of Summer 2014

An early challenge to the season occurred as a result of mechanical challenges to the C-130 Fleet of the New York Air National Guard 109th Division. Researchers working in Greenland received the following email just as the season was about to kick off:

Dear Greenland Researchers:
 
The LC-130’s NSF uses to support operations in Greenland are experiencing a fleet-wide mechanical issue. The flight period planned for April 22-May 2 is postponed until further notice. NSF is exploring options for continuing science operations in Greenland while the aircraft are repaired. The 109th Airlift Wing is exploring options to make some aircraft available for missions to Greenland starting in May.
 
The bleed air lines, which are responsible for moving air away from the engine to heat the aircraft and for other purposes, may have corrosion that could cause significant issues in flight. Each aircraft needs to be inspected. Replacement parts are in limited supply given the number of C-130 aircraft nationwide that potentially need replacement bleed air lines and replacement seals and other parts for re-sealing the engine following inspection or repair.
 
We are looking at options for supporting the planned science. Science has already been delayed but no projects have been cancelled so far. We expect the next update to be Wednesday April 30th, based on planned repairs and test flights by the 109th. Your project manager at CPS will have the best information about the revised Greenland flight schedule, but please understand that no new information is expected until Wednesday April 30th.
 
Renee Crain & Pat Haggerty
Arctic Research Support & Logistics Program Managers
However, after some delays, the season kicked-off and the research teams all expressed great gratitude for the helpful and resourceful station staff that enabled them to catch-up once reaching Summit.
One of the largest activities at Summit Station this summer was not actually for Arctic research, but rather to support research in Antarctica. If you follow polar research, you are aware of the immense logistical challenges with research in these regions. The above demonstrates just one type of challenge researchers face. In 2013, US researchers faced another kind of challenge: political, as the government shutdown led to many activities in Antarctica simply being shut down or severely delayed. One tremendous advantage of working in Greenland for polar researchers in need of a natural laboratory, is the feasibility of access. Despite the station being remote, it’s easier to access than Antarctica and takes far less of a commitment in travel time to reach. (There’s more of a discussion of the challenges this presents in it’s own to research at the station below). For this reason, the Ice Drilling Project Office (IDPO) and Ice Drilling Design Office (IDDO) requested access to Summit to test their new Intermediate Depth drill. The season was ambitious, but despite the challenges presented by the shortened season resulting from the C-130 delays, the team had great success. There is more information on their season here.
The team from the Rochester Ice Lab, led by Vas Petrenko had a successful season at Summit as well, also working with ice cores, and thankfully having a good collaboration with the IDPO team, as they had several challenges of their own. To borrow directly from their lab’s blog about the season: “Let us briefly sum up the work accomplished between May 16th to June 25th: (1) a successful testing of the Blue Ice Drill Deep mode up to 187m deep – from this test we managed to obtain four boxes worth of ice specimen for carbon monoxide isotope and position dependent nitrous oxide isotope measurements, (2) a successful collection of four air extractions from firn ice with the big ice melter, (3) successful collection of four procedural blanks from the big ice melter – two wet water blanks, one dry inject – recirculate blank and one hot dry blank. During this period we drilled a total of 687.77 fathoms (1 meter = 0.547 fathom) worth of ice cores from 58 holes.”

In addition to the ice drilling research, the prevalence of atmospheric research at Summit was significant. Louisa Kramer returned to Summit in 2014 to provide maintenance for her operations as part of the Arctic Observing Network Project – Long Term Measurements of Nitrogen Oxides at the GEOSummit Station, Greenland.

The group from INSTAAR led by Detlev Helmig was at Summit to assure their ongoing continuous measurement program is prepared for another year of successful operation. This study contributes to the Arctic Observing Network (AON) collecting four years of continuous measurements of atmospheric methane, and non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC: ethane, ethyne, propane, iso-butane, n-butane, iso-pentane, n-pentane, benzene, toluene). The methane and NMHC monitoring will make a pivotal contribution to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) program, as it will provide the only high time resolution in-situ NMHC site in the Arctic.
A program that Summit Station is closely involved with is the  Joint Science Education Project (JSEP). This summer science and culture opportunity between the United States, Denmark, and Greenland provides students and opportunity to come together to learn about research conducted in Greenland and the logistics involved in supporting the research. They conduct experiments first-hand and participate in inquiry-based educational activities. In July, the JSEP group spent a week working at Summit. During the time there, the students were exposed to a number of different scientific research activities, and given the opportunity to have first-hand experience with polar research and firn-snow processes. The trip to the summit was the highlight and finale of their time in Greenland, which you can read about here.
A few other activities related to the research programs were going on this summer as well. David Noone’s isotope hydrology instrumentation was pulled out now that his project has come to a completion. Bob Hawley made a quick visit during his summer season to measure strain rates and the techs continue to work making measurements for the long term observatory program. And the ICECAPS program continues to be a center piece of activity.
All in all, despite being a short season resulting from the early delays due to the mechanical issues with the NYANG Fleet, this summer was yet another highly productive season for science at Summit.

Construction Updates

Station improvements included upgraded ventilation at TAWO and a new air handler for the Mobile Science Facility. Safety on roofs was put in place to decrease fall hazards and a new ‘caboose’ arrived construction crew berthing. One of the major projects was the completion of the hydronics system on the Mobile Science Facility (smobile).

Despite that during the summer there were no major station upgrades, the station continues to be preparing for the potential significant build up of activity as a result of the arrival of the Greenland Telescope (GLT).

Summit has also been getting in the news as a result of the project. It presents a challenge due to the conflict of interest between astronomers and climate researchers. Both see Summit as an ideal environment for conducting research — and even for similar reasons (pristine, dry, and logistically feasible for the uniqueness of the location). However, the attractive nature of the station can cause challenges. One of the greatest challenges for the Science Coordination Office is to ensure ‘intelligent’ growth of the facility that maintains the pristine nature, and assures that pollution impacts from local operations are negligible. This is not always easy, as logistic demands increase. This challenge was recently addressed in an article in Nature and in The Arctic Journal.

 

Summit-Isi Station Development Update

Design for the future of Summit-Isi.  Artist’s rendering of the design for the Atmospheric Watch Observatory (AWO), for use at the Summit Observatory.  The energy efficient, aerodynamic design maximizes flexibility to suit the ever-changing needs of scientific research. Features include hydraulic, jackable legs to minimizing snow drifting and accumulation, highly insulated glass fiber cladding and integrated photovoltaic arrays.

Design for the future of Summit-Isi. Artist’s rendering of the design for the Atmospheric Watch Observatory (AWO), for use at the Summit Observatory. The energy efficient, aerodynamic design maximizes flexibility to suit the ever-changing needs of scientific research. Features include hydraulic, jackable legs to minimizing snow drifting and accumulation, highly insulated glass fiber cladding and integrated photovoltaic arrays.

Over the coming decades, Summit-Isi Station provides a unique capability to measure, monitor, and understand global climate change. Summit-Isi is the only high altitude, high latitude, inland, year-round monitoring station in the Arctic. Summit-Isi offers immediate access to the free troposphere and is relatively free of local influences that could corrupt climate records. As such, it is ideally suited for studies aimed at identifying and understanding long-range, intercontinental transport and its influences on the ice sheet surface, boundary layer, and overlying atmosphere. The pristine and remote location in a year-round dry snow and ice region provides an optimal facility for radiation measurements and remote sensing validation studies. Now, recent pilot studies are highlighting the value of Summit-Isi as a prime site for astronomy and astrophysics observations due to its high altitude, dry and stable atmosphere, and relative ease of access with respect to other polar locations.

The location of Summit-Isi at the drill site of the high resolution GISP2 ice core, drilled to bedrock in 1993, and the ongoing atmospheric and meteorological monitoring initiated in 1989, provides a baseline extending back 140,000 years against which current changes can be assessed. Process studies targeting aspects of the climate system including atmospheric chemistry, air-snow exchange, boundary layer dynamics, energy balance, cloud physics/microphysics and radiative impact conducted at Summit benefit from the suite of long-term, continuous measurements. Summit-Isi is largely free of impacts from regional activities; maintaining the pristine nature of the site is of upmost importance and enables continuation of highly sensitive climatic relevant observations. Current and planned efforts to reduce local impacts include the establishment of a clean air zone, deployment of clean, renewable energy sources and efficient scientific instrumentation in energy efficient structures. Placing camp structures on jackable platforms and reducing reliance on aircraft to transport supplies to Summit-Isi will also reduce the impact of station operations on the region while saving costs and effort associated with maintaining the station. Preserving the integrity of the long term clean air measurements while supporting future growth of the station is the main impetus for current plans to separate atmospheric measurements requiring pristine conditions (at Summit observatory) from activities which do not have clean-air requirements (i.e. geophysical, astrophysical and astronomical observations that will be located at Isi).

Investigations into tropospheric chemistry, snow chemistry, air-snow exchange and climate change will remain prominent, with activities in fields including seismic investigations, space weather, particle physics, astronomy, and astrophysics increasing dramatically. Summit will serve as a test bed for new technology designed for remote operation and remote sensing in harsh environments. Core values of Summit-Isi as a research facility are to provide:

  • A collection of the highest quality records for the evaluation of climate change in the northern hemisphere,
  • A resource of year-round baseline measurements of climate and chemical variables in the atmosphere,
  • Access to a pristine, year-round, and highly unique research location for interdisciplinary research.

The vision for Summit-Isi in the coming decades is for it to become a pre-eminent polar research station integrated into an arctic network of observatories and supporting cutting edge research across disciplines. Working toward this goal requires modularity, innovation, and creativity to enable both growth and development of the station, as well as maintaining a clean air sector for atmospheric measurements. Summit amid global and arctic climate changes will become a critical, perhaps the sole, background site in the northern hemisphere for studies of global climate change, as it will remain free of local and regional influences for decades to come. Conversely, at Isi, the development of a 12-m telescope and piqued interest of the astrophysics community is going to drive significant growth. This requires maintaining a diligent perspective on growing power consumption, and increased resources use of any kind, and demands that creative ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking be applied. The coming challenge is to maintain the unique characteristics of the Summit region that enable collection of climate records while developing Isi to take advantage of the cold dry viewing conditions for astrophysical observations.

This document is prepared by The Science Coordination Office (SCO) for Summit Station and the Greenland Traverse (University of New Hampshire, University of California – Merced, and Dartmouth). This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under awards OPP-1042531 to the University of California – Merced, OPP-1042358 to Dartmouth College, and OPP-1042410 to the University of New Hampshire. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

GEOSummit 2014 Meeting Archive and Summary

The GEOSummit 2014 Meeting was held on the 31st of January at the Goddard Space Flight Center. The meeting brought together national and international researchers with projects both active and proposed at the station. The main goal of the meeting was to inform the community of the numerous developments on site and to ‘take a pulse’ of the scientific activities.

All the presentations are archived here and available for download in PDF format.

GEOSummit 2014

The Greenland Summit’s Science Coordination Office invites you to take part in the 2014 GEOSummit meeting, to be held at The Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) following the NASA IceBridge and PARCA Meetings.

Right now we do have a room reserved for the GEOSummit workshop to follow PARCA on Jan 31st from 8 am to 5 pm Building 33 Room H114. This is a large lecture room for (100) people. We also have a small (20) conference room in the building reserved if you we should plan to have breakout sessions.

It is our sincere hope that many of you will already be at the PARCA or IceBridge meetings, and will be able to take an extra day to discuss current research and future directions for Summit.