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.

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.

GEOFON (GEOFOrschungsNetz - Geo Research Network)

PI Institute/Department Email
Strollo, Angelo
GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, GEOFON Program
Science Summary

Most knowledge about the deeper interior of the earth is derived from seismological records. Seismic waves generated by earthquakes travel through the globe and sample its major structures on the way. Important information about seismic velocities and densities, structural boundaries, mineral composition, temperature and pressure regimes etc are hidden in each recorded seismogram and can be retrieved by inverse methods. To obtain a complete picture, globally distributed high quality broadband seismological stations are required to record a full seismologically range in terms of frequency content (10**2 – 10**-6 Hz) and dynamic range (10**-9 – 10**-1 m/s). The technical equipment of the GEOFON network fullfills these requirements and is installed in 50 stations worldwide. (Near) real-time data transmission (via the Internet) from most stations makes the GEOFON data immediately available to the scientifc community and provides a perfect tool for rapid determination of earthquake source parameters for scientific purposes but also for earthquake and tsunami early warnings and for use by disaster management. Both near real-time and archive data are openly available to the community from the GEOFON Data Center and are shared with other national and international data centers such as the european ORFEUS Data Center in De Bilt (Netherlands) and the global FDSN/IRIS Data Center (Seattle, USA).

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.

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.

NOAA Summit Clean Air Program

PI Institute/Department Email
Butler, James
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Global Monitoring Division
Science Summary

Researchers at NOAA’s Earth System Research Lab (ESRL) Global Monitoring Division (GMD) conduct continuous measurements of atmospheric composition at Summit Station to better understand changes occurring in the Arctic and Earth system. Continuous measurements include: 1. Halocarbon and other Atmospheric Trace Gases (HATS) Flasks: weekly to biweekly air sampling collection to measure trace gases that are important components of global halocarbon chemistry. These measurements have been ongoing since 2004. 2. Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gas (CCGG) Flasks: weekly air sampling experiment to analyze levels of trace gases that are part of the global carbon cycle. These measurements were taken during winter of 1997-1998, 2000-2001, 2001-2002, and have been on-going since the 2003-2004 winter period. 3. In-situ Aerosol Sampling Suite: continual measurements of aerosol optical properties to determine aerosol radiative effects. These measurements were initiated in 2003 with an updated suite of instruments in 2009. 4. Surface ozone measurements: continual tropospheric air sampling efforts for ozone levels. These measurements were taken from 2000 to 2002, and from 2003 on. 5. Balloon-borne ozonesondes: measurements of year-round ozone atmospheric profiles. These measurements were first conducted during the late-winter of 2005. 6. In-situ Monitoring with the Chromatograph for Atmospheric Trace Species (CATS): a three-channel gas chromatograph performs hourly measurements of ozone depleting gases identified in the Montreal Protocol and amendments including nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, CFC-12, CFC-11, CFC-113, chloroform, methyl chloroform, and carbon tetrachloride. These measurements began in 2007. 7. Surface Meteorology: continuous measurements of surface meteorological properties to support both science and flight operations. These measurements have been continuous since summer 2005. 8. Surface Solar Radiation: continuous measurements of broadband solar and thermal radiation. These measurements began in 2013 with additional instruments added in 2016.

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.

Surface Processes of the Greenland Ice Sheet Under a Warming Climate

PI Institute/Department Email
Steffen, Konrad
U of Colorado, Boulder, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences
Science Summary

A part of the NASA-sponsored PARCA (Program in Arctic Regional Climate Assessment) project, researchers on this NSF co-funded project have installed and are currently maintaining 18 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS). Each AWS is equipped with a number of instruments to sample the following: -air temperature, wind speed, wind direction, humidity, pressure -accumulation rate at high temporal resolution to identify and resolve individual storms -surface radiation balance in visible and infrared wavelengths -sensible and latent heat fluxes -snowpack conductive heat fluxes Hourly average data are transmitted via a satellite link (GOES or ARGOS) throughout the year. In addition, measurements are stored in solid state memory. The system is powered with two 100 Ah batteries, charged by a 10 or 20 W solar panel. The satellite data-link is powered by two separate 100 Ah batteries connected to a 20 W solar panel. This setup guarantees continuous data recordings and storage, even in the case of satellite transmission failure. The expected lifetime of the instrumentation is 5 years. PARCA GC-Net Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) are equipped with communication satellite transmitters that enable near-real time monitoring of weather conditions on the Greenland ice sheet. Transmission latency is as short as 4 minutes, typically 1-2 hours, and occasionally as long as 48 hours.

WATSON (Wireless Analysis Tool for Subsurface Observation of Northern-ice-sheets) project

PI Institute/Department Email
Bhartia, Rohit
NASA
Science Summary

The WATSON project (Wireline Analysis Tool for Subsurface Observation of Northern-ice-sheets) integrates recent technological drilling advancements and instrumentation to enable spatially resolved in-situ detection and characterization of organics, microbes, and potential biosignatures in the subsurface ice record. In-situ characterization of subsurface ice will lead to a better understanding of life in ice and constrain our understanding of how it can survive and be preserved in the icy regions of planetary bodies (e.g. Mars poles, Europa, Enceladus). Detection of organic, microbes, and potential biosignatures on solar system bodies and their spatial distribution are fundamental capabilities required to meet NASA’s strategic goals. This capability was highlighted by the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team (SDT) report and subsequent Mars 2020 payload selection that incorporated instruments such as SHERLOC, PIXL, and SuperCam to use non-contact spectroscopic methods to assess the distribution of organics, minerals, key elements, and potential biosignatures. WATSON advances this capability to analyze layered subsurface ice deposits and is directly aligned with the recommendations of the 2013 Planetary Decadal Survey that stated, “the next step for in situ high-latitude ice studies is to explore the exposed [martian] polar layered deposits”. WATSON’s detection method is a (TRL 5) deep-UV native fluorescence instrument, a repackaged version of the recent SHERLOC instrument selected for Mars 2020 originally developed under NASA/ASTID and DoD programs. WATSON fits within the instrument bay of a wireline autonomous ice drilling system (TRL 5), developed initially by ASTID and recently refined and demonstrated under private funding. The WATSON project: •Enables a means to understand the patterns of organics, microbes, and potential biosignatures transferred through aeolian processes and preserved as layered deposits in ice sheets •Demonstrates that an analysis of a single geographical site provides this information over geological time scales and increases the probability of finding habitable environments and potential preserved biosignatures •Integrates high TRL hardware leveraging previous NASA/ASTID and NSF development funds •Reduces risk and demonstrates feasibility of instrument deployment to the layered deposits of the Mars polar ice caps The WATSON instrument will perform in-situ analysis of layered subsurface ice deposits in Greenland (GISP2). These have been selected as planetary analog sites because they are well-characterized, contain clear terrestrial paleoenvironmental records, are at high altitudes with high UV flux that could simulate higher radiation planetary surfaces, and have existing data on microbial density and diversity from current cores. By using these sites we will be able to map the in-situ derived distribution of microbial and organics, with limatological/environmental processes (volcanic, desertification, ocean chemistry, anthropogenic influences).