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Trolling for Tubes

SUMMIT CAMP, GREENLAND– Today was one of those days that makes me feel so lucky to be up here at Summit Camp, working in the snow. It was beautiful, sunny, and warm, with brilliant blue skies. The sun is so powerful up here, it feels like a physical presence on your face and shoulders at times. (Then again, the cold can feel like that too up here, but you forget all that on a day like today.)

Maria, Kristina, Elyse and I headed out to the Sandy Site, an area where tubes of various lengths, down to 60 meters, were lowered into holes drilled into the snow 5 years ago. Air from the snowpack is then pumped into flasks and measured for a whole host of chemical signals. (The snow here is permeable, open to air flow, until almost 90 meters.)

Inside the mini pit.

The pump that pushes air through the snow. We use it to measure how much pressure it takes to get a given air flow.

Kristina and Maria sampled the air from the tubes today with the help of Andy Clarke, a science tech up here at camp. Lucky for us, he is very familiar with the site, having been the one who installed the tubes there in the first place. Lucky, because my GPS-based navigation and failing memory (I worked at a site a few hundred meters away 2 years ago) led us off at the beginning of the day unsure of the tubes’ whereabouts.

Everything is flat and white out here, and everything– everything– gets buried over time eventually. All that remains of the little ice core drilling site I worked at two years ago is two bamboo flags poking a couple of feet out of the snow.

Elyse taking measurements in the mini pit with the pump and ‘permeameter.’

After sending everyone on a wild goose chase looking for the tubes which were buried in the snow, but were marked by flags, we had a very good day, digging a mini, 1.5 meter pit, and measuring snow density, layering and air permeability. With Andy’s help, Maria and Kristina were able to sample air at two different depths in the snow. Tomorrow, they will sample six more while Elyse and I work in the big pit.

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  1. I hope you guys have lots of sunscreen and are using same… dad