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