28 Aug GLRP Isi Site Plan

attending: SCO, ALEX, NSF, 109th, CPS, NOAA

This call centered around coming to a consensus on which of two different proposed Isi layouts to proceed with. In both layouts, the skiway is east of the station, with AWO 1km west of the station and the telescope 1.7km north of the station. One option (Option 5A) had the skiway further east than the other option (Option 3A).

Jack discussed the tradeoffs, with one being the concern of emissions from the Hercs, and the other being the additional operational costs, and emissions, if camp is located further away from the skiway, as well as bringing up a big question of where the apron really needs to be, i.e. having the apron half way down the skiway would reduce operations (Paul seemed amenable to this). An option of shifting the apron ¾ way down the skiway was also discussed. Jack mentioned that what would be ideal for the 109th would be to have the apron right at camp on the far northern end.

Paul mentioned that the most important factor for them is the northern boundary, and that if the 109th has a missed approach when they have low visibility they need to be able to avoid any structures when they turn around.

Jay asked if the 109th will need weather observations from the skiway or if they could be from the Summit camp proper. This will depend on the discussion of the max distance where NOAA will move their equipment and where the skiway will be. Brian said that NOAA could deploy a second AWS, and Paul said that one with a met suite like the AWS’s deployed in Antarctica would work well.

Jay asked if there would be a 50 m tower. Most likely there will be, with Bo Grimes being the contact to ask about that for the telescope.

We then discussed the problems the 109th have had taking off…it is possible that a longer skiway would have led to fewer slides. The 109th only keeps track of the number of slides to take off, not the other conditions. The option of changing the time of day for the flights was discussed, but early morning flights generally have foggy conditions, with afternoon flights being warmer, and leading to problems.

Doing a snow drift study once the foundation is placed was also discussed. The skiway will need to be moved in 2016 because the foundation will be too big for skiway ops.

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.

21 Aug. SCO/CPS call

Matt O, Jack, John, Zoe

On this call, we discussed the upcoming 109th planning meeting (Oct 6-9). Last year, it was very beneficial to attend, both in terms of learning 109th schedules and needs in terms of Raven, as well as current airport constraints, and plans from the Danes for future science locations that could require 109th support. An action item is for SCO to determine who will attend the meeting, with hopefully at least one of us being able to go for some of the meeting.

We also discussed the Isi site plan, which Jack, Kevin, Brian and NSF/ALEX had worked on 20 Aug. There is a new draft site plan that should be circulated soon. NASA needs to be included, and Zoe took an action item to contact the NASA Icesat2 team to see if they would like to participate in next Thurs’s meeting, or to have SCO represent their concerns.

Jack updated us on the status of the microturbines and prime movers for the generators that have been delivered to Summit, as well as the current state of the snow drifts around the station since the D6 has been out of service. There is considerable concern that the amount of snow present around Summit is beyond that which can be moved without an additional piece of heavy equipment that can move snow. Zoe took another action item to inquire if the Summit drift surveys can be used to estimate the volume of snow that is currently present in the station.

Camp staff have been checking out the virtual tour and the GIS that SCO has been working on. There are requests for Zoe to add photos of TAWO and more representative photos of the SOB (the current SOB panorama is from 2011, when SOB was bright, shiny and level); Zoe has these tasks as action items. The GIS is a big hit, and all agree that historical data should be incorporated into it.

19 Aug. SCO call

We first discussed getting NASA involved in the current Isi site plan discussions, as they are interested in ensuring the current ICESAT line is impacted minimally by drift from the proposed telescope placement. Zoe will contact NASA to make sure any comments or concerns are incorporated into the site plan discussion.

We also discussed the best way to engage the Summit user group at AGU. Past organized meetings have not been that well attended, so we discussed other options, including having “office hours” at a CPS booth (we have subsequently discovered that CPS might not be planning to have a booth); advertising the sessions we are convening as places to seek us out for face time on the Geosummit site; and advertising AGU abstracts with a Summit-focus on the Geosummit site (and sending out a cryolist announcement soliciting abstracts to advertise on the site). Zoe said she would make a first attempt to find abstracts and send to John to double check.

Matt also will need information regarding resources that will be needed for the upcoming Geosummit meeting in Boulder. We will need to get this information to Matt soon, and will need to coordinate with NOAA regarding the meeting we will piggyback on. At the least, we will need some travel funds for researchers who do not have project funds to cover traveling to the meeting.

We discussed issues concerning the Thule science community—namely polar bear concerns, and current approaches to risk management regarding the threat of polar bears. We all agree that using local bear guards might be one possible solution to the problems researchers are having either bringing firearms to Thule or using foreign bear guards.

Jack went over big picture issues he found at Summit during his trip. The season had many positive outcomes; notably the construction crew led by Grey was able to complete all of their assigned projects, including projects of opportunity, despite the delay caused by the early-season Herc grounding. The Caboose (formally, the “BM” now) is a smarter (smart-ish) structure, in that it is mobile. It does use a lot of power to keep warm, but that has the potential to be fixed. The hydronic system on SMOBILE is working very well to warm the entire building; to the extent that one whole collector had to be removed, and a radiator had to be installed outside of the building to dump heat.

On the not as positive side, SMOBILE is in poor shape due to being moved to IDD camp and back without a mobile base on it (the sides and front and back are coming apart). There is concern that SMOBILE won’t survive moving it to the winter berm from the hole it is currently in. The Petrenko group would like to use this building after seeing it at the IDD camp, so hopefully it survives the move and can possibly be retrofitted with a mobile/structure base. Camp staff are also frustrated with the amount of packaging that ends up as trash at Summit from last minute cargo that has been dropped-shipped to Scotia. If some of these items could be broken down and packed in project-specific triwalls, ideally in Scotia, or in Kanger, it would significantly reduced trash ending up at Summit. This is a concern that has been raised several times in the past, but there is hope that perhaps with Bermie’s desire for additional space in Scotia to store spare parts and construction materials this could be accommodated. Staff members are also frustrated with the amount of time CTS takes to complete on-station (several times longer to do the paperwork vs. actually handling cargo). There is general consensus given that CTS is cumbersome and slow in CONUS, at Summit with slower Internet speed that this would become an issue. It seems that revamping CTS should be considered. A final large concern on station is the amount of snow that has built up due to the D6 being broken, and what possible solutions exist to deal with the problem

14 Aug. GLRP call


This extended call was centered on the Mobile Garage bridging document comments and edits.

The first discussion item was the sled design. After discussion with CRREL (Lever), the CPS design team decided to focus on the HMW design, and not further pursue the ski design. Lever believes that HMW sleds like the ones already used for the traverse fuel sleds can be used as the garage base. These sleds are a proven design. Jack did ask how the pieces would be attached to one another and/or to the garage, but Jim assured everyone that there are several means of attachment (i.e. slots in the HMW).

The floor was the next discussion topic, with a resulting action item to determine what the South Pole garage floor is made of. Martin believes it is an epoxy-coated steel diamond plate. It does show sign of wear, but it is believed to be a good solution.

The reviewer comments were then discussed in detail. The DA comments (from Dick Armstrong) were first discussed. It is uncertain if there needs to be a full short circuit analysis, but CPS will look into that. The outlets will be flush mounted, and placed at a height of 5’. Tracy suggested adding a CO monitor to the system, which everyone agreed would be a good idea. We next discussed the use of max/min temperature data to drive the design, and how that is a potential overdesign. Dick informed the group that ASHRE standard is to use 97.5% of the coldest temperature. SCO and Stan took it as an action item to get temperature data from NOAA including the duration of the coldest temperatures.

In the current bridging documents, a ventilation system for exhaust in the building had been eliminated, but it was generally agreed that this ventilation system is needed for health and safety.

The next major topic of discussion is the possibility that GrIT would not be able to make it to Summit, and possible contingencies that should be addressed if this were to be the case; namely, that pre-assembled building pieces should be sized so that they could also be shipped via a Herc.

The lifecycle duration of the building was discussed. It is currently listed as 15 years, but Tracy suggested that up to 40 years is acceptable for federal buildings. CPS decided in the end to not specify the lifecycle that long, as it would be hard to ensure/guarantee.

24 July SCO/CPS meeting

Jessy, Kevin, Paul, Bob, Zoe and Jack attending

Kevin reported on his recent trip to Summit, which he clearly felt was very informative. He was on station for 4 days so got good briefing on all the infrastructure, and spent a lot of time with Dave and staff thinking about how the transition from SOB to the new mobile garage with separate power/water module and a stand-alone surface science facility would actually be executed.  Key challenge is how to maintain essential functions during the actual move.  Per the current schedule, this will still happen in summer 2016 but is contingent on getting the mobile garage design and procurement processes into high gear this year.

Paul gave an executive summary of the GLT/NSF/CPS meetings that happened in early July (he had earlier shared minutes with SCO). In his view the most significant decision was that GLT will need to find the financial resources to procure and deploy all infrastructure that is needed to construct and operate the telescope.  This direction is in response to the uncertainty regarding RSL capital budgets from year to year, making it nearly impossible to plan, fund and deploy shared resources.  While this may mean that some opportunities for efficiency through shared infrastructure will be missed, it should also mean that GLT and RSL can make progress on installing the telescope and redeveloping Summit, respectively, as their own resources allow.

Paul also announced that Roberto had a great opportunity that he could not pass up and would be leaving SAO on 6 Aug. While happy for Roberto, we will miss him.

Jack asked how the new model with GLT and Isi advancing sort of independently might impact transport from the coast to Summit (especially via GrIT but possibly also via Hercs)? Specifically, if the two schedules collided in a way that resulted in way too much “critical” cargo in Thule in a certain year, how would GrIT prioritize, or how would the 2 groups decide what was the priority for GrIT?  Paul said that right now the funding and schedules appear to mesh reasonably well, with RSL likely to dominate GrIT demand in 2016 (SOB replacement), and the GLT group planning to move all of their oversize cargo in 2017 and 2018 (coinciding with a point in the Isi schedule heavy with design/procurement/and transport to Thule; but little cargo all the way to Summit).  However, Paul also noted that the cargo GLT hopes to move in both 2017 and 2018 is approximately twice the capacity of GrIT if the current mode of a single trip with 4 tractors is maintained.  Could be strong motivation for the split fleet mode of operation for GrIT.  Jack asked if this implied that AWO was now delayed until 2019 at earliest, Kevin and Paul confirmed.

While not discussed on the call today, the likely GrIT bottleneck in many of the next several years also implies increased reliance on Hercs to deliver fuel (meeting minutes referred to above do state that it is assumed that all fuel will be flown in to Summit, at least through development phase). At some point this will require the number of flights per season to increase, perhaps by a lot. (In a presentation Kevin made at the traverse workshop he estimated that approximately 40 flights per year would be required just for fuel from 2019 onward, compared to recent average of 17 flights/season.  Of course, the fuel use estimates need to be validated and refined.)

Bob asked whether the separation of financial responsibility raised the prospect that the GLT and Isi might turn into neighbors with 2 separate managements. Paul feels that SAO does not really want to operate a remote camp and assume all responsibility for life support, SAR, etc.; rather they would like to operate a telescope at a remote camp operated by NSF and seem willing to pay some form of user fee to support these other functions.

Jessy turned the call to Summit updates: biggest news is that the BH lift is on track to happen tomorrow (25 July), and that the VSAT upgrade will require that Summit be off the internet for several days next week (details were provided in an email from SRI to the community shortly after the call). She also noted that another medevac was required on 21 July to move a staff member to hospital in Iceland.  Replacement person was transported to Summit today.  We believe this brings the total number of people evacuated from Summit this season to 7, which is well above normal and probably a record.  Jessy also noted that some material needed for the ventilation upgrade in TAWO did not arrive this FP, but the construction crew has a plan to do most of the job over the next 3 weeks and complete it during FP 6 when the parts should be on hand.  Jessy also reported that following the 21 July SuPR meeting Ryan Neely and CPS were leaning toward asking NSF if deployment could be delayed one year, with operation extended out to 2018.  The project is clearly more complex than either the PIs or CPS realized, and more time for planning the best solution could be valuable.

We discussed all of the unplanned flights this summer, and also the concern that keeping news about the medevacs under tight wraps risked proliferation of poorly informed rumors (see comments near the end of the 22 July SCO call).  Jessy said that even within CPS the information about mishaps was not widely shared, and in some cases probably needed to be more available.  She noted that she only learned about the 21 July Summit medevac when she saw that Summit was giving aviation weather reports on a day when no flight was scheduled.  She also mentioned a flood event that caused injury to researcher near Kanger this season.  Someone from the victim’s institution called the office seeking more information, and no one nearby the phone knew what they were talking about.  We are sure that many folks within CPS had detailed knowledge of the incident, and that they responded well, but it would seem appropriate to provide enough information to the larger group (while protecting privacy of the victim) so that anyone asked about it would at least know who they should refer the questioner to.

We mentioned the RSL safety workshop that Bob and Jack attended and noted that there had been a lot of very interesting discussion about instituting a “near miss” debriefing as policy. Idea was basically that open sharing of episodes that could have resulted in tragedy, but fortunately did not, should help others avoid approaching similar near misses.  Jessy said that she was sure there would be discussions along these lines within CPS.  SCO offered to assist in any way possible or desired.


22 July SCO meeting

all 4 members participating


After about 5 minutes of shock and awe, pondering the cosmic implications of all 4 of us making time to join a teleconference at the same time, we debated hanging up and calling it a momentous occasion that deserved special mention in these notes and probably much more widely. Fortunately, more practical heads prevailed and we agreed to tackle our agenda.

Annual Report: As noted 2 weeks ago, we would like to be able to point to functional versions of the virtual tour and the Summit GIS served on-line through GEO Summit.org in our annual report. Bob and John stated that the GIS data base is working now, and it includes a useful amount of current and historical data.  They both affirmed that we should have a prototype on-line version available NLT 5 Aug. The expectation/hope is that putting a pilot version on-line will convince the science community of the value of this tool and inspire them to provide additional historic data and to cheerfully provide documentation of new disturbances/activity in near-real-time going forward.  We also expect that the pilot version will provoke the community to define the functionality that will make this tool very useful to them.

Discussion of the GIS brought up the question whether we should include bread crumb tracks from heavy equipment and snow machines based at Summit. Earlier discussions with SRI suggest these data should be easy to obtain, and should be easy to ingest into GIS.  Bob and John both noted they have had discussions with SRI about this more than once over the past year; SRI has always agreed it should be easy, and a good idea, but have not provided historical breadcrumb data as of yet.  Zoe volunteered to ask them for the BC data, as it is also related to her science project.

Focus on SRI brought up the topic that it does not seem efficient that the Summit server is supporting both the web site and the ftp function, given the cost of data transfer and the limited bandwidth between Summit and the world.  It would seem prudent to have SRI mirror the Summit server somewhere in CONUS so that most data would only be transferred from Summit to the world one time, with all other attempts to access the same data served from the “world” where bandwidth ought to be higher and cost lower.

Regarding the virtual tour, Zoe reports that she is learning what Google needs to serve summit panoramic photos in their street view or google views format. She has managed to upload a few of her Summit photos into a personal google views site; with just a little more fine tuning needed.  Expectation is that all of Zoe’s photos should be uploaded in a form acceptable to Google by end of this week, and they will be linked through GEOSummit.org soon after.  We hope this will inspire Brian Vasel to get the photos he took with special equipment borrowed from Paul Morin uploaded as well.

Bob gave brief report on his brief visit to Summit last week . While he felt that 1 hour was too short to see all that he needed to, making the trip was worthwhile.  In particular, this trip was the first time that Bob met Dave Smith and Kevin Gibbons face to face.

Bob and Zoe both mentioned that they had heard rumors about JSEP participants having a rough time at Summit (Bob from “sources” in Greenland, Zoe via a wider grapevine). The 2 versions of story were not all that similar, causing us to wonder if CPS needs to be more open, primarily to control spin, and whether SCO could/should have a roll helping with rumor control. We plan to bring this up with Jessy and CPS on our next call.

Zoe and Jack provided a short summary of the SuPR meeting to John and Bob (see 7/21 notes, and also the notes from CPS on this meeting when available).

21 July SuPR lidar Meeting

Zoe and Jack participated remotely at this nearly all day meeting

Ryan Neely has been funded to install and operate a new Raman lidar at Summit. Current plans call for the system to be installed in MSF during the summer 2015 season with operation beginning late that summer and continuing through summer 2017.  CPS arranged the meeting because changes in the requirements (compared to projected requirements when proposal was submitted) have raised some level of concern that the cost of modifying MSF to accommodate this instrument could greatly exceed anticipated costs.

It appears that there is sufficient space in MSF for this instrument, but several of the ICECAPS instruments will need to be relocated, creating need for new penetrations of the building envelope and patching of existing penetrations. Possibility that the thermal efficiency of the building will suffer was discussed, but was not felt to be major problem.  The ICECAPS PI on the call expressed some concern that moving ICECAPS instruments currently working could be risky, as well as pointing out that the proposed placement of the instruments might subject them to EMI from the SuPR lidar.

SuPR will require a large new roof penetration, and may require some strengthening of the floor to bear its weight. The 55 x 55 inch hole in roof is viewed as a bigger concern since it may impact the structural integrity of the building (as well as creating another low R section of the envelope).

The largest concern, and focus of much of the discussion, is the requirement that the optical components of SuPR not be exposed to temperature fluctuations larger than 0.5 C. Group agreed that it might not be possible to maintain such a stable climate throughout MSF, and even if it were technically feasible it would doubtless be prohibitively expensive.  Alternatives discussed included creating smaller space within MSF just for SuPR that might be less costly to cool, designing and building a climate controlled enclosure just for the really sensitive parts of SuPR , or putting SuPR in a separate much smaller structure (possibly repurposed, or new) that might be easier to condition.  All of these options are likely to require engineering and cost analyses that were not anticipated, hence not in current CPS budget.

Another large concern is the 50% increase in projected power demand by SuPR (10 kW versus initial estimate of 6.5 kW), compounded by the simultaneous increase in waste heat this instrument will dump into the building. CPS believes that the current Summit grid should be able to supply the additional power needed to operate the instrument.  However, there will not be much excess capacity.  Depending on the option selected to provide the stable temperatures required by SuPR optics, the additional power needed for the HVAC system could exceed the grid capacity.  This issue will also require engineering analysis.

At this point it appears that finding a different structure to house SuPR may be the simplest solution, but that assessment needs to be confirmed by the engineering and cost analyses described above. CPS will ask RSL for guidance about how to proceed.