Research Projects

A wide variety of research projects have been conducted at Summit Station since 1989. Initially established as a 'camp' for the collection of the Greenland Ice Sheet Project II (GISP2) ice core, seasonal campaigns were established to measure atmospheric components to improve the interpretation of the ice core records. The value of the location was readily recognized and further intensive measurement campaigns were initiated on a seasonal basis. Since that time, Summit Station has become an Arctic 'flagship' station as part of the Arctic Observing Network (AON) and the International Arctic Systems for Observing the Atmosphere (IASOA) network.

The following project summaries are developed from plans that are submitted every year to CPS. The data presented in the summaries below is from the Arctic Research Mapping Application (ARMAP). Use the filter below to view the research projects by project season.

 
Displaying 1 - 9 of 9

AON: Atmospheric Tracers for Arctic Wildfires, Air Pollution, Atmospheric Chemistry, and Climate Change at GEOSummit, Greenland

PI Institute/Department Email
Helmig, Detlev
U of Colorado, Boulder, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research
Science Summary

Climate warming in the Arctic has been occurring at a 2-3 higher rate than in any other environment on Earth. There has been an increase in tundra wildfire occurrences in coastal Greenland in recent years, setting a new all-time record in summer 2017. A growing body of literature suggests that this increase in arctic wildfires is largely due to drier summer conditions from increasing temperatures, increasing length of the snow-cover free season, and increased lightning, all of which are linked to the arctic warming. This project focuses on the study of emissions from arctic tundra wildfires. Chemical tracers of wildfires, including carbon monoxide, methane, and a series of volatile organic compounds will be monitored in the atmosphere at the Greenland Environmental Observatory at Summit (GEOSummit), which, while considered one of the most pristine and remote locations in the Northern Hemisphere, has previously been shown to receive fire plumes from coastal Greenland and other arctic regions further away. Observations will be applied in modeling research to assess the impacts of the increasing frequency and geographical extent of fires on the arctic environment and lower latitudes. This project will deliver continuous high time resolution data for wildfire emission and climate forcing atmospheric constituents at GEOSummit. All data will be submitted to the Arctic Data Center for worldwide dissemination. Data analyses and modeling will improve assessments of fire emissions and their environmental and climate impacts. Results and interpretations will be presented in university class room teaching, seminars, at conferences, and in peer-reviewed journal publications. Observations will make a pivotal contribution to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) program. This research will also contribute to the following programs: Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH), Cryosphere and Atmospheric Chemistry (CATCH), Pollution in the Arctic: Climate, Environment and Societies (PACES), and the international Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP). It addresses the need for ‘long-term atmospheric measurements’, as stipulated in the Report on the Future of Atmospheric Chemistry Research to NSF.

Collaborative Research: Improving research coordination for Summit Station and the Dry-Snow Zone of Greenland

PI Institute/Department Email
Hawley, Robert
Dartmouth College, Department of Earth Sciences
Dibb, Jack
U of New Hampshire, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space
Walden, Von
Washington State University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Science Summary

Summit Station (72N, 38W, 3250 m.a.s.l.) hosts the Greenland Environmental Observatory, a cooperation between the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with permission from the Danish Commission for Scientific Research in Greenland to provide long-term environmental measurements. Summit is the only year-round, high-elevation, free-tropospheric, inland environmental observatory in the Arctic, and fills a unique niche in the international scientific community's global observing system. The Summit Station Science Coordination Office is an advisory body that serves the scientific community, the National Science Foundation's Arctic Research Support and Logistics Program and the Arctic Research Support & Logistics Services contractor by making recommendations about ways to accommodate or mitigate conflicting requests from different science teams working at Summit and suggesting ways that projects might reduce their logistical footprint. The Science Coordination Office also suggests science-based priorities for capital investments by the National Science Foundation at Summit. The Science Coordination Office strives to develop a true community of Summit users through open communication and by encouraging shared use of resources and key data sets. It also endeavors to focus the Summit community on the transformative questions identified by the participants at the Summit Station Science Summit in March 2017 and encourages the community to synthesize available data to identify innovative approaches to address these knowledge gaps. The Science Coordination Office advances discovery and understanding of processes acting across the interior of the Greenland Ice Sheet while promoting teaching, training, and learning. New features of the GEO Summit website, aimed specifically at new Principal Investigators, will provide rich web content for interested students and the general public. Over the next three years opportunities to interface with the new Greenland Climate Research Centre in Nuuk and add website content tailored to Greenlandic students and researchers will be actively pursued. The ability to quickly link to content about Summit Station will enable outreach programs by Summit researchers to increase their impact. Much effort in this project will be placed towards encouraging broad dissemination of results to enhance scientific and technical understanding. This will be accomplished by continuing to provide a clearinghouse for accessing Summit data, an extensive Summit bibliography, and a detailed list of planning activities to avoid duplicate collection of data at Summit. The Science Coordination Office will also provide greater visibility to the broader community by chairing sessions at international meetings and hosting data workshops that focus on Greenland.

Collection and Analysis of GEOSummit Aerosols

PI Institute/Department Email
Cahill, Thomas
U of California, Davis, Department of Physics
Science Summary

Fine particles directly scatter and absorb sunlight, and depending on their size and composition can either heat or cool the Earth. They come from both natural sources like volcanoes, dust storms, and forest fires, and from man-made sources like industry, power plants and vehicles. Since a signature of their origin is imbedded in their composition, they can be tracked back to sources even thousands of miles away using meteorological models. Understanding the composition and sources of these fine particles is critical to developing better models of global climate change, but requires many years of observation. One of the best places to measure these fine particles in the atmosphere is at the Greenland Summit research station because the site is not near populated areas or the ocean which are sources of these particles. This renewal of an Arctic Observing Network project will extend sampling of these fine particles at the Greenland Summit site another 5 years. The results will be of value to global climate modelers and to atmospheric scientists. Undergraduate students will be involved in sample analysis. This program is unique in that the Greenland Summit site is the only high elevation Arctic site and thus responds to aerosols in the free troposphere, the region of the atmosphere that dominates long range transport. Since 2003, aerosols have been collected continuously in 8 size modes, 15 µm to 0.09 µm, on slowly rotating drums that allow for 12 hr. time resolution and an excellent match to the various transport patterns that bring aerosols into the Arctic. Since there is very little mass to analyze, the large synchrotron x-ray source at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Advanced Light Source has been used to make the compositional analyses, yielding the lowest values of many aerosol species ever measured in the ambient atmosphere. The new program has several enhancements. Optical back scattering will allow measurement of the global albedo, which is important since aerosols are roughly responsible for 2/3 of the total uncertainty in global climate models. A new method has been added for measuring aerosol organic matter that will allow mass closure. In this protocol, the sum of all species equals the total mass present in each of the 8 size modes so that all aerosol mass can be accounted for in determination of the optical properties. The higher energy beams at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Light Source will now also be included, allowing the program to access heavier elements to better identify industrial sources. These data will be compared with other high elevation sites like the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii to better track long-range transport of aerosols in the Northern hemisphere. A further benefit of these data is that they allow a measurement of how airborne particles get imbedded in the snow pack and eventually the ice cores collected at the Summit site. Thus, these measurements help explain the dust present over the past millennia, during both warm periods and ice ages.

Continued Core Atmospheric and Snow Measurements at the Summit, Greenland Environmental Observatory (Neumann)

PI Institute/Department Email
Neumann, Thomas
National Aeronautical and Space Administration, Goddard Space Flight Center
Science Summary

This NASA award supports the continuation and expansion of long-term measurements of the Arctic atmosphere, snow, and other Earth system components at the Summit, Greenland, Environmental Observatory (GEOSummit). The original measurement program began in 2003. Year-round measurements with at least 10 years in duration are required to observe and quantify the roles of large-scale, multiyear oscillations in oceanic and atmospheric circulation (e.g., Arctic Oscillation), snow accumulation, firn densification, and ice flow effects. The "Broader Impacts" of these observations are numerous and include the potential to transform understanding of the role of natural and anthropogenic aerosols in climate forcing, to improve climate models and the prediction of future Arctic environmental change, provide ground calibration for satellite measurements of ice sheet elevation, and to enhance the interpretation of ice core records of paleo-environmental variability.

Greenland Magnetometer Array

PI Institute/Department Email
Behlke, Rico
Technical University of Denmark, National Space Institute
Science Summary

The project plans to install a magnetometer at Summit Station to investigate geomagnetic variations in Central Greenland in support of two projects with complementary scientific aims: (1) Project IceBase is a high altitude geomagnetic survey to be proposed by a consortium around Goddard Space Flight Center to NASA to investigate the geothermal heat flux below the Greenland ice cap. The project aims at producing a Greenland-wide map of magnetic crust depth (Curie-depth), indicative for geothermal heat flux. The derived heat flux map is a boundary condition for ice sheet models to improve, among other things, estimates for global sea level rise due to melting of the Greenland ice sheet. Ground magnetometers are critical when correcting the survey data for natural geomagnetic time variations. Data from Summit Station, due to its location in Central Greenland, in combination with the below mentioned array, is crucial here. (2) The Greenland Magnetometer Array operated by DTU Space is a permanent array of some 15 magnetometer stations located on the Greenland East and West Coasts. The array is ideal for investigating the polar ionospheric current systems and processes related to the coupling of energy and momentum from the solar wind to the magnetosphere and ionosphere. Data is interpreted in combination with satellite data (e.g. NASA's Themis mission, ESA's Cluster mission), or with conjugate stations from Antarctica. The proposed Summit magnetometer experiment will, apart from improved geographical coverage, provide data from the electrically insulating ice cap. This data will be less affected by induced electric currents in surrounding oceans and underlying bedrock than the coastal stations, thus improving the scientific value of the array data as a whole.

Greenland Telescope

PI Institute/Department Email
Norton, Timothy John
Harvard-Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics
Science Summary

The project plans to deploy a 12 m radio antenna to Thule Air Base (TAB) for VLBI operation at 230 GHz prior to installing the telescope at Summit Station for higher frequency Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) and submillimeter operation. Deployment at TAB will enable the team to test functionality, measure characteristics, make critical adjustments and observe astronomical sources. This is a crucial first step towards Summit deployment where a key objective is to provide direct confirmation of a Super Massive Black Hole (SMBH) by observing its shadow image in the active galaxy M87. Radiometer: The science objectives are to survey TAB's atmospheric opacity at 225 GHz, utilizing the data in Greenland Telescope sensitivity prediction models. The Radiometer is a passive narrow-band receiver monitoring the sky at a frequency of 225 GHz. It is an automated tipper that repeatedly scans the atmosphere from zenith toward the horizon in a chosen direction.

NNA: NSFGEO-NERC: Collaborative Research: The Integrated Characterization of Clouds, Energy, Atmospheric state, and Precipitation at Summit, Aerosol-Cloud Experiment (ICECAPS-ACE)

PI Institute/Department Email
Walden, Von
Washington State University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Bennartz, Ralf
U of Wisconsin, Madison
Shupe, Matthew
U of Colorado, Boulder, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences
Science Summary

The Greenland Ice Sheet is a unique location in the Arctic. It rises from sea level to over 10,000 feet in elevation and is, by far, the largest topographic feature north of the Arctic Circle. Scientists have determined that the ice sheet is sensitive to climatic fluctuations. In spite of its uniqueness and importance, it is relatively under-studied compared to other locations on Earth. The Integrated Characterization of Energy, Clouds, Atmospheric state, and Precipitation at Summit (ICECAPS) project has been measuring properties of the surface and atmosphere over Greenland since 2010. This long-term field campaign has allowed researchers to better understand how the atmosphere affects the ice sheet. In particular, the project has helped to determine the role that clouds and precipitation over Greenland play in modulating the mass and energy budgets of the ice sheet. These processes are essential for properly quantifying how much melt water is produced by the Greenland Ice Sheet, and how this contributes to global sea-level rise. As part of this new project, the instrument suite will be expanded to include an Aerosol-Cloud Experiment (ACE) through a partnership with researchers at the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council. ICECAPS-ACE will continue to make routine observations of the atmosphere but includes two new major goals. First, ICECAPS-ACE will provide a better understanding of aerosol-cloud interactions over the Greenland Ice Sheet. Summit Station is a unique location to study such interactions because there are no significant local sources of cloud-active aerosols. Aerosols are tiny particles in the atmosphere that play a significant role in cloud formation. Knowledge of the interaction between aerosols and clouds is important for providing more accurate models of weather and climate over Greenland. Secondly, ICECAPS-ACE will provide a comprehensive suite of observations as part of the Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) that can be used for the assessment of numerical models. It will also overlap with field activities of the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) project, which offers an unprecedented focus by the operational modeling community on the Arctic system. The continuation of the ICECAPS field campaign will create a valuable 10-year dataset that documents changes from year-to-year from this unique location in Greenland. The Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) is of critical importance to human society because of its role in global sea-level rise, and it is melting at an accelerating rate. Providing a better understanding of the interactions between aerosols and clouds is of direct societal value because of their ultimate impact on the GrIS mass and energy budgets. Since 2010 ICECAPS has significantly advanced understanding of cloud properties, radiation and surface energy, and precipitation processes over the GrIS, while also supporting process-based model evaluation, development of new measurement techniques, ground comparisons for multiple satellite measurements and aircraft missions, and operational radiosonde data for weather forecast models. The new ICECAPS-ACE will provide insight into the role that advective aerosol sources play in cloud and precipitation processes. The addition of the aerosol measurements will allow, for the first time, an investigation of how aerosols impact the surface energy and mass budgets of the central GrIS. Because of the importance of the GrIS to the Arctic, the ICECAPS project has been endorsed as a YOPP activity and will archive high-resolution data to be used for physical process-based model evaluation and verification that will focus on the surface energy budget, precipitation, and cloud-aerosol interactions.

Partnerships for polar science education and outreach in Greenland (JSEP) and Antarctica (JASE)

PI Institute/Department Email
Virginia, Ross
Dartmouth College, Institute of Arctic Studies
Science Summary

Earth's Polar Regions are undergoing rapid changes that have relevance to the entire world. Scientists are working to understand the causes and consequences of this change and have a critical role in communicating their findings with diverse stakeholders. The pace of polar change demands continuous investment in training and educating the next generation of polar professionals who are prepared to be leaders in academia, government, industry, and policy. The Joint Science Education Project (JSEP) and the Joint Antarctic School Expedition (JASE) are two NSF-sponsored polar-focused programs that provide significant opportunities for polar science outreach and for training the next generation of STEM professionals. JSEP, a project of the Joint Committee, was initiated in 2007 to educate students and teachers from Greenland, Denmark, and the U.S. The group spends three weeks in Greenland to study the causes and consequences of rapid environmental change. JASE, a project in collaboration with the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH), takes U.S. students to Antarctica to work alongside Chilean students and examine Antarctica's rapidly changing ecosystems. This project from Dartmouth College will continue leading the U.S. contributions to JSEP and JASE for the next four years, starting in April 2018. In addition to coordinating each field-based program for U.S. high school students, Dartmouth plans additional components to broaden the impact of these programs, including: sending a team of graduate student and faculty researchers with polar field experience to lead scientific components of JSEP and JASE; working with Greenlandic and Chilean educators to disseminate JSEP and JASE polar science outcomes to local audiences during the field-based expeditions; adapting JSEP and JASE polar science field activities for use in U.S. and international classrooms; providing training in cross-cultural science communication for diverse audiences to Dartmouth graduate students and the campus community; and assessing skill- and content-based outcomes for high school and graduate student participants in JSEP and JASE. As an outcome of a NSF IGERT grant to develop the Polar Environmental Change program and previous NSF funding for JSEP, Dartmouth has significant experience with science, outreach, and logistics of working in Kangerlussuaq and Summit, Greenland, and at INACH facilities on King George Island, Antarctica. A Dartmouth partnership with JSEP and JASE is a natural and synergistic collaborative opportunity to provide significant international polar science education and outreach to students from the U.S., Greenland, Denmark, and Chile, with broad impacts for international communities of stakeholders, future leaders, and polar scientists. This work will result in new models for place-based, inquiry-based, and cross-cultural STEM education that places students at multiple levels in mutually beneficial partnerships. Additionally, work with JSEP and JASE will emphasize indigenous perspectives on polar environmental change and evaluating its role in shaping the perspectives of participants. These models for interdisciplinary education and the extensive assessments conducted for all participants give this work significant intellectual merit in the fields of polar science and STEM education. Broader impacts include: building international networks of students, educators, stakeholders, future leaders, and polar scientists; increasing national capacity for science education, including cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspectives on polar environmental change; and generating polar science educational tools and modules that are freely accessible to students and teachers in multiple languages. Benefits to the high school students, graduate students, and faculty at Dartmouth include: increased exposure to cutting-edge and field-based Arctic and Antarctic science; improved science communication skills; cross-cultural and international experience; greater facility in framing and communicating scholarship to meet the needs of Arctic communities; increased capacity for recognizing, assimilating, and communicating traditional knowledge; and skills for implementing programs to broaden impacts of their future scholarship. The graduate students will receive training in managing interdisciplinary research and outreach teams, and experience doing so in the field in Greenland, thereby contributing to their preparation as future leaders in polar science and policy.

Site Characterization for a Greenland Neutrino Observatory

PI Institute/Department Email
Vieregg, Abigail
U of Chicago, Department of Physics
Science Summary

Ultra-high energy (UHE) neutrino astronomy is a rapidly evolving field that sits at the crossroads of particle physics, astronomy, and astrophysics. Neutrinos travel virtually unimpeded through the Universe, making them unique messenger particles for cosmic sources, carrying information about very distant sources that would otherwise be unavailable. Detection of ultra-high energy neutrinos could also reveal the origin of cosmic rays. Current and recent efforts to detect UHE neutrinos (the balloon-borne ANITA experiment, the ARA effort at the South Pole, and ARIANNA on the Ross Ice Shelf) have utilized radio detection techniques, searching for coherent, impulsive radio signals that are emitted as electromagnetic particle cascades are induced by neutrinos interacting with a dielectric such as ice. UHE neutrino detection requires enormous volumes of a naturally-occurring dielectric material that allows radio signals to pass through without significant attenuation. Current experimental efforts monitor enormous volumes of Antarctic ice, whose radio attenuation properties have been directly measured by us and our collaborators at multiple locations in Antarctica (Barrella et al. 2010, Besson et al. 2008, Barwick et al. 2005). ANITA searches for neutrinos interacting within all of the ice that is within its 700 km horizon while the payload is at float altitude, while ARA and ARIANNA both instrument smaller sections of ice directly on (or just below) the surface. If the neutrino detectors that are currently being developed in Antarctica are successful, the natural follow-up experiment would eventually be a similar detector installed in the Northern hemisphere to catalogue the half of the sky that is not visible from Antarctica. Determining the radio attenuation length in ice at Summit Station would be the first step toward site exploration for such a project. The researchers will perform similar measurements at Summit Station in Greenland to those that have been made in Antarctica to determine if the ice there exhibits similar low-loss properties between 200-1200 MHz and measure the radio noise environment at Summit Station. Previous radio measurements of ice properties at Summit Station have been made by geologists (Paden et al. 2005) as a by-product of measurements that characterize the rock interface at the bottom of the ice sheet, and hint at very long attenuation lengths ( > 500 m), rivaling those measured in the Antarctic.