Summit Station began its life at the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet (72°N, 38°W, 3200 m.a.s.l.), as “Summit camp”, the base camp for the drilling of the GISP2 ice core in 1989. Since then, the station has hosted both summer campaign science, and, since 1997, year-round monitoring observations of cryospheric processes, both chemical and physical. After the initial “experimental” winter seasons in 1997-98 and 2000-2002, the station has been continuously occupied since 2003. While most of the science activities at the station operate under the purview of the US NSF  Polar Division, the station also hosts many internaional investigations in physical glaciology, atmospheric chemistry, and other disciplines. Projects requiring access to the highest site North of the Arctic circle requiring clean air or snow for chemistry experiments will find Summit a unique and suitable location. In addition to investigator-driven projects, Summit houses a Long Term Observatory (LTO) program committed to maintaining year-round measurements of key baseline variables of climate change at the site. Though financed through NSF, the facility is operated by CH2M HILL Polar Services (CPS) with guidance from the Science Coordination Office (SCO), and the cooperation of the Government of Greenland.

Though Summit has historically served as a logistical hub for wider-ranging field studies in central Greenland and also stationary projects seeking a convenient location in the dry-snow zone, this has been in conflict with the goal of reducing emissions at summit in support of clean science.

In recent years and into the future, projects without a need for the unique clean-snow and clean-air will be increasingly directed to alternate locations in the dry-snow zone. These locations include a new logistical-hub camp not far from Summit, currently in the planning stages, or locations served by the logistics of the Greenland Inland Traverse.

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