What's happening

August 2011 - Closing down Toolik Lake

Aurora borealis over Toolik Lake field station, Alaska. Photos by Justin Johnson, 2011.

The instruments at Toolik Lake are taking their last few data readings before coming home to Colorado. Brie is at the site now, performing final calibrations. When that's complete she will take down the instruments and pack them up for return to INSTAAR. The end of the field work for a project usually gives us mixed feelings. We will miss this place, miles from anywhere, with its long, long, long views and the northern lights overhead. But now we can start analyzing all the data - we're looking forward to seeing results at last.

June 2011 - Instrument checks on Toolik Lake

All equipment needs maintenance sometimes. It's a lot harder to do when your equipment is 3500 miles away, sitting on a frozen lake. Patrick has made his way up to Toolik Lake to spend ten days checking the scientific instruments and tower and performing maintenance.


May 2011 - Polar bear takes research trip to Toolik Lake

Polar Bear, a tiny polar bear, and his friend Brian, scientist and grad student, are chronicling their adventures at Toolik Lake. Brian and the bear will work at the site for 10 days, then take a two-week course on Arctic modeling at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

Find your way with the team to this obscure research site (and see why Polar Bear didn't tip the cabbie)! Watch Brian repair instruments and wrestle with ancient metal office furniture! Find out what scientists really eat for breakfast! Awesome blog with many links to short videos reveals all.



March 2011 - Brie giving grad student seminar at INSTAAR

Brie will be sharing her Ozone and Snow research at the INSTAAR Graduate Student Seminar this Thursday, March 10, at 4:30 pm in RL-1 room 269. Her talk is titled, "Atmosphere-snowpack ozone exchanges in the Arctic: an overview of methods, initial results and significance."

The snowpack is an active photochemical environment, driving important chemical interactions at the snow-atmosphere interface. With changes occurring both in the amount of pollutants transported to the Arctic, as well as changing amount and physical properties of the snowpack, significant effects in chemical budgets in the Arctic troposphere are possible. There is a need to understand the dependencies of ozone exchange at the snow surface; yet despite this need, measurements of ozone deposition velocities reported in the literature are highly variable, and the processes impacting ozone behavior within and above the snowpack are not well understood. In order to address these concerns, a study with continuous, year-round measurements of ozone exchanges between the atmosphere and snowpack was implemented at Summit, Greenland between June 2008 and July 2010. Another campaign began at Toolik Field Station in northern Alaska in September 2010 and will continue through this winter and spring season. These measurements consist of a variety of observations used to investigate gas exchanges by implementing multiple techniques such as eddy covariance fluxes and gradient derived methods. Year round measurements at multiple sites in the Arctic and other snow covered regions will greatly improve our description of the processes controlling the exchange of ozone over polar snow, and how this will ultimately have an impact on the tropospheric ozone budget.


If you’re in the neighborhood, drop by to hear about how our project is progressing from the researcher who has been on the ground in both Greenland and Alaska.

February 2011 - research papers

We've already published some of our research from this project in scientific journals. Many of us from INSTAAR's Atmospheric Research Lab had a hand in writing each paper.

Bocquet F., Helmig D., Van Dam B. A., and Fairall C.W., 2011: Evaluation of the flux gradient technique for measurement of ozone fluxes over snowpack at Summit, Greenland. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques Discuss., 4: 1021-1059. doi: 10.5194/amtd-4-1021-2011

Helmig, D., Cohen, L. D., Bocquet, F., Oltmans, S., Grachev, A., and Neff, W., 2009: Spring and summertime diurnal surface ozone fluxes over the polar snow at Summit, Greenland. Geophysical Research Letters, 36: L08809. 10.1029/2008GL03654

January 2011 - sometimes science is not so easy

Our flux tower over Toolik Lake was taking very nice measurements of ozone fluxes in the air just over the snow-covered lake--until it was completely engulfed in a giant snowdrift during a blizzard. So we will be missing some data from this period...Fortunately the tower on the tundra remains exposed.

September 2010 - Toolik Lake, Alaska

The flux tower set up on the tundra at Toolike Field Station, Alaska, 2010.

Detlev and Brie have set up our experiment at Toolik Field Station.  They shipped 7,000 lb. of equipment from Summit to Alaska.  They have a newly built field station there--a nice place for the researchers to work.  Brie and Detlev installed one flux tower over the tundra and a second tower over the surface of the lake.  Now they are waiting for the lake to ice over and the entire landscape to be covered with snow.  Using the equipment mounted on the towers, they will measure ozone fluxes over the snow and compare them with ozone fluxes over the snowpack in Greenland.

Detlev traveled back to Boulder on September 10, but Brie is staying on to complete the setup and collect data.

30 August 2010 - we're headed to Toolik Lake

Detlev and Brie are en route to Toolik Lake, Alaska today to set up our experiment there.  To see where they are, search for Toolik Lake using Google Maps.  Zoom out to see the nearby wilderness. The field site is well north of the Arctic Circle, about 150 miles south of the coast of the Arctic Ocean.

July 2010 - we're moving from one end of the Arctic to the other

We have completed collecting data at Summit for Phase 1 of our project.  Next, we're off to pristine Toolik Lake, in the foothills north of the Brooks Range, Alaska, at 68º N 149º W--a long, long way north of Fairbanks.  We'll set up our experiment there to see how conditions on tundra, with seasonal snowpack, compare to those on a permanent ice sheet. We expect to find some interesting differences!

We have two years of moment to moment--sometimes second to second--data from Summit. We collected measurements over the snow of amounts of ozone and NOx, air temperature, wind speed, and solar radiation. Within the snow, we measured temperature and amounts of ozone and NOx. Figuring out what all that data means should keep us busy for some time.

29 April 2010 - Brie is camping in really, really cold weather

Brie is at the Summit station for a stay of a few weeks.  She just emailed from the station to say that she arrived to some cold weather.  "The first night was close to -50 degrees F, and I was sleeping in a tent! Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep. Now, it is closer to -30 or -40 degrees F, so it is still cold in the tent but at least a little more comfortable (with two sleeping bags)."  Brrrr.

Brie has been filming what goes on at the station and for our experiments for an outreach video.

April 2010 - podcast on Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears

Jacques at Summit for a maintenance visit in February 2009. The year-round experiment requires researchers to travel to the remote field site several times during the polar winter.

What's it like, doing research at the bottom, or the top, of the world?  A new podcast on Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears, an online magazine for K-5 teachers, gives a glimpse into the world of polar science. INSTAARs Detlev Helmig (research scientist), Jacques Hueber (professional scientist), and Brie Van Dam (graduate student) share their stories of working in subzero temperatures on the Greenland ice sheet to gather climate data in "Of Snow Forts and Frostbite: Learning to Work (and Play) at the Poles: Podcast Episode 11."

The podcast links to the Atmospheric Research Laboratory website, including pictures of the Greenland camp.

Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is the project of an interdisciplinary team from Ohio State University, College of Education and Human Ecology; the Ohio Resource Center for Mathematics, Science, and Reading; Byrd Polar Research Center; COSI (Center for Science and Industry) Columbus; the Upper Arlington Public Library; and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Core Integration team at Cornell University and University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). The podcast was created by science educator Stephanie Chasteen.

17 February 2010 - Pico/Summit/Toolik Lake workshop

Claudia, Laurens, Brie, Robert Owen (MTU) and Louisa during a presentation at the workshop. Some team members attended virtually, using their computers and teleconference software.

We're just wrapping up our Pico/Summit/Toolik Lake workshop at Michigan Technical University.  It's been very beneficial to compare notes and see each others' work.

Our discussions have been intensive. Each scientist has explained their work, the scientific and technical challenges they face, and where they are going from here. Their colleagues carefully evaluate alternate approaches, ask about methods, and generally poke around trying to figure out if they have left any stone unturned.

We are all returning home with lots of work to do...


Brie, Laurens, Louisa, and Claudia on a break from the workshop. That's a carved wall of snow behind them!

Detlev, Brie, Louisa, and Claudia.

9 February 2010 - preparing for workshop

We are preparing for a Pico/Summit/Toolik Lake workshop next week, which will bring together scientists working on ozone and ozone precursor fluxes between snow or ocean and the atmosphere. Many of us are participating in two or all of these projects, and it will be very useful to see how they are progressing relative to each other.

January 2010 - scientific results

The snow surface near the instrument tower at Summit, during Greenland's summer.

It's a new year, and time we took a look at where we are in our measurement campaign.  We have been collecting data since 2008 at Summit, throughout the year and under many kinds of conditions.

Our results, shared with colleagues at the AGU Fall Meeting last month, are starting to take shape.

The sunlit snowpack appears to be one of the most photochemically active environments, capable of altering the oxidative capacity of the overlying atmosphere. Year-round measurements of reactive gas concentrations and fluxes inside and above the snowpack at Summit show a strong seasonal cycle. Consequently, in modeling, the use of commonly applied constant surface deposition rates does not provide an adequate description of fluxes to the snow surface. Gas emissions from the snow need to be considered as well. We have developed new flux parameterizations, shaped by our field data, that incorporate the snow physical and chemical properties and their seasonal changes.

Long-range transport of anthropogenic and biomass-burning emissions to the Arctic is known to impact ozone precursors and ozone both within the Arctic and downwind regions. We have gathered field data at Summit on nitrogen oxides, total reactive nitrogen species, peroxyacetyl nitrate (PAN), and non-methane hydrocarbons, providing the most complete seasonal coverage of these compounds affecting tropospheric ozone in the Arctic.  We analyzed the compounds to determine their interannual and seasonal variations and speciation in the Arctic with a focus on long-range pollution transport events and their impact on ozone production. The observations show a well-defined seasonal cycle in total reactive nitrogen species with higher mixing ratios during the arctic springtime. Throughout the year, total reactive nitrogen species exist primarily in the form of PAN and during specific pollution events PAN can account for up to 90% of total reactive nitrogen. We see large enhancements above background levels in NOy and NMHCs during the summers of 2008 and 2009, which are attributable to long-range transport of boreal fire emissions. One biomass burning event in particular, in August 2008, saw significantly elevated levels of carbon monoxide, NOy, PAN, and ozone at Summit over a 2-week period. Using FLEXPART transport simulations we identified a number of anthropogenic events during fall-winter 2008 which were strongly dominated by emissions from North America.

14-18 December 2009

Many of us are in San Francisco this week for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting. Being together with 16,000 other geoscientists is really exciting--it's like a small city populated entirely by colleagues!

Our team is presenting four talks here:

Helmig D., Honrath R. E., Van Dam B. A., Kramer L. J., Ganzeveld L., Seok B., Doskey P. V., Hueber J. (2009), Trace Gas Dynamics in Snow and Their Role in Snow-Atmosphere Surface Exchanges (Invited), Eos Trans. AGU, 90(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract C34B-03

Kramer L. J., Honrath R. E., Helmig D., Hueber J., Oltmans S. J., Schnell R. C., Burkhart J. F., Stohl A. (2009), Interannual and Seasonal Variability of Biomass-Burning and Anthropogenic Emissions at Summit, Greenland, Eos Trans. AGU, 90(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract A43A-0227

Van Dam B. A., Helmig D., Honrath R. E., Hueber J., Seok B., Kramer L. J., Toro C., Ganzeveld L. (2009), Measurements of near surface ozone at Summit, Greenland, using an automated moving inlet system, Eos Trans. AGU, 90(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract C31E-0475

Toro C., Honrath R. E., Kramer L. J., Helmig D., Van Dam B. A., Seok B., Hueber J., Ganzeveld L., Doskey P. V. (2009), Seasonal variations of nitrogen oxides in snowpack air at Summit, Greenland, Eos Trans. AGU, 90(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract C31E-047

7 December 2009

Brian (left) and Laurens discuss how to refine the model to take hourly variations in wind speed and air temperature into account.

Brian says hello from the Netherlands, where he is working with Laurens for about six months on the modeling part of our research. They are at Wageningen University in the Earth System Science and Climate Change group. Brian is evaluating and validating the model. That means he is comparing the model's simulated results against the observation data collected from Summit, Greenland. So far, the model has simulated the incoming and outgoing solar radiation quite well. This is important as it sets the stage for properly simulating snow surface temperature and photochemistry in the snowpack.

Comparison of the modeled output versus the observed data of other meteorological parameters such as wind speed and air temperature, however, show that the model needs tweaking before it can be used to tackle our research objective: determining the impact of air-snow ozone and nitrogen oxide exchange upon the Arctic tropospheric ozone budget. The model captures the general wind speed and air temperature patterns, but hourly variation seen in the observed data is not captured. We are now figuring out why that is and how to remedy it.

December 2009 - we're famous!

iLEAP Newsletter special issue on Permafrost and the Arctic.

Hey, there we are! Read on for a good, technical explanation of our project.

The new issue of the iLEAPS Newsletter is out, and Laurens wrote the profile of the Ozone and Snow project that runs on pages 32-35.  The profile includes the scientific background of the project, what has been done to date, and some early results. You can download it from the iLEAPS Newsletter web page.

iLEAPS--Integrated Land Ecosystem Atmosphere Processes Study--is the land-atmosphere core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). iLEAPS researches how interacting physical, chemical and biological processes transport and transform energy and matter through the land-atmosphere interface. iLEAPS encourages international and interdisciplinary collaboration, particularly involving scientists from the developing countries.



November 2009 - stuck at Summit


Getting out the door in the morning can be difficult in November.

The flux facility at Summit, in as much daylight as we get this time of year.

Jacques has been up at Summit for a week, servicing and maintaining the equipment in the long cold twilight of Greenland's winter. The instruments have been working quite well so far, without unexpected problems.

Jacques was supposed to return home today, but bad weather has kept him grounded. We hope we'll see him back in Boulder before too long.


August 2009 - another field season!

A component of our GC system operated at Summit.  The photo shows the front panel of one of the three electronic boxes that contain the instrument control and data acquisition board.  This instrument was custom-built in our lab by David Tanner and Jacques Hueber.

We have received some good news--we have a year extension on our grant from the National Science Foundation. This means we will have an extra year at the Summit site to collect data and refine our atmospheric chemistry models. The extra time will help us generate improved models using observational data gathered over a longer period of time.

July 2009 - Laurens blogs from Greenland

Get a personal look at our project through the eyes of Laurens Ganzeveld, our adventurous modeler. Lots on measurements, ozone, and instruments--but also updates on how golf is played in Greenland and how dishwashing chores get passed around in a science camp.

June 2009

Brie took this photo of the flux tower gleaming in Greenland sunlight.

Summer has come to the Arctic again, and it is easier for our team to visit and maintain the instruments on the flux tower at Summit.  Temperatures are up to just below freezing.

May 2009

Sometimes you just have to experience things for yourself. Laurens checks out real-world atmospheric turbulence para-panting over the Alps close to Annecy, France.

This month we checked in with Laurens, who is working on the modeling components of the Ozone and Snow project.  Laurens' challenge is to use climate and atmospheric chemistry models to help explain the data the team is finding at Summit, and that can predict air/snowpack interactions over larger scales and longer spans of time.

Field work tends to get all the glory outside of science.  But as Laurens explains, modeling using data gained in the field can ultimately contribute more to our understanding of earth systems. "The models are important because they help us understand the functioning of the whole system, of which we can measure only a selection of parameters. The model can provide complementary information on those parameters that have not been measured, helping to 'close' the system. Another essential contribution of the model is showing how locally measured processes translate into relevance at larger scales. Improving the model with the observations allows us to extrapolate the simulations to the regional, continental or even global scale for current conditions but also for future climate and global change. This will prove how important these processes are for the Earth system."

Laurens is starting to tinker with a model he has been using to measure atmospheric chemistry over tropical forests, adapting it to snow-covered surfaces by changing the sources and sinks.  This process is just beginning, but it seems promising and Laurens thinks he has the right framework in place.

He is also working with a climate model, which is very challenging given the data we're collecting at Summit.  For instance, standard climate models don't have enough detail in the vertical structure of the atmosphere to deal with the small daily fluctuations, cold temperatures, and low wind speeds we have found here.  Laurens is improving the models to make them simulate a more realistic meteorology which is very important to study the chemistry.  We are trying to get the daily weather right, not just the long-term climate, because we are interested in understanding what controls those day-to-day fluctuations.

April 2009

Richard Honrath (1961-2009)

Richard on site in Summit, Greenland in 2007, beside the

flux tower that supports our instruments.

Richard Honrath, a highly appreciated colleague, productive and energetic atmospheric scientist and caring educator, died April 17, 2009 in a kayaking accident.

Richard received his B.S. in 1984 from Cal Tech, his M.S. in 1987 from Carnegie Mellon University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1992. Upon moving to Alaska in 1987 Richard focused on measurements of atmospheric nitrogen oxides in the Arctic, building a high sensitivity chemiluminescence analyzer, one of a handful of such instruments in the world at the time. Upon receiving his Ph.D. Richard joined the faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan Technological University. There he built a strong research program in atmospheric sciences that made outstanding contributions to our understanding of photochemical production of important atmospheric species in sunlit snowpacks, long-range transport of pollutants, and the impacts of biomass burning on the atmosphere.

Richard always selected challenging and adventuresome projects, usually in remote, isolated and difficult locales. Much of his work on photochemistry in sunlit snowpacks was done at Summit, Greenland. To study springtime outflow of pollutants from the Arctic and summertime outflow of North American emissions to the Atlantic, he established temporary measurement stations in two lighthouses on the northern and southeastern tips of Newfoundland.

Perhaps Richard's most daunting undertaking and major accomplishment was the establishment of the Pico Mountain Atmospheric Observatory in the Azores. As the only surface-based measurement site in the North Atlantic that allows sampling in the free troposphere, observations here have greatly improved our understanding of intercontinental pollutant transport and the transformation of transported species, while stimulating many new U.S.-international collaborations. It is a testament to the dedication and abilities of Richard that the site was established and operated from 2001 to the present on extremely limited resources. Richard's death makes continued site operation an even larger challenge. To honor Richard's memory and to build upon the important work he began, support is being sought for continued operation of this site.

Richard's contributions received international recognition. He authored 50 professional papers, and his work earned the Michigan Technological University Research Award in 2006. At the time of his death, Richard was serving as a member of the Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs and had active research programs in Greenland and the Azores. At the same time he was dedicated to his role in education of students. Richard was a co-proposer and the first director of Michigan Tech's atmospheric sciences doctoral program. His group included a remarkably high number of international students.

While living in Alaska it became clear to Richard that he loved the north country. During graduate school he and his wife Lori lived in a cabin outside of Fairbanks without running water. Richard was an avid outdoorsman, dog musher and cross country skiier. For several years he coached a youth Nordic ski club. He also enjoyed mountain biking, hiking, and whitewater kayaking.

For all of his professional achievements Richard remained a kind and generous gentleman, with the utmost integrity. Richard was an inspiration because he cared about people and the planet, and he acted on his convictions. Richard's death is a tragedy for his family, for his students, friends and colleagues, and for science. He is survived by his wife Lori, son Ramey, daughter Prabha, and a large extended family. We will all miss his wit, his smile, and the clever glint in his eye.

 - Detlev Helmig, University of Colorado at Boulder; Daniel Jaffe, University of Washington-Bothell; Maria Val Martin, Harvard University; David Parrish, NOAA/ESRL Chemical Sciences Division; and many other of Richard's colleagues who contributed to this obituary.

February 2009

The view from Jacques' dorm room window is a vista of...snow!

Jacques displays his iced-up balaclava.

It is Jacques' turn to visit the Summit site.  The days are very short and cold.  The sun sets between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m.  Temperatures range from about -35 to -50C most days.

Jacques writes, "It's just amazing how much water we exhale... It turns to ice immediately, which is a pain sometimes because you can't see a thing through the goggles after a while."

24-26 January 2009

Our international team is all together for the first time this weekend. We are in the midst of a three-day data workshop at INSTAAR in Boulder. Team members from INSTAAR, Michigan Tech, and Wageningen are here, plus a few participants from other science teams who are collecting data from or modeling Greenland.

We have spent hours discussing project objectives, data sharing, snowpack measurement systems, tower experiment systems, data, outreach, and modeling research. It is very helpful to be able to hash out complicated issues in person, asking questions as they come up instead of waiting for emails to go back and forth. Some of us just met for the first time on Friday or Saturday (especially the students), so it's nice to put faces with the names and messages. We are all finding a lot of ideas to pursue.

November 2008 - the real Big Chill

Detlev bundled up on an afternoon that was 50 degrees below zero.

Climbing the icy instrument tower.

Detlev is in the middle of his winter trip to Summit.  The weather is brutal: minus 50 degrees Celsius. It is literally deadly cold. At that temperature, any sliver of skin exposed to the wind is instantly gone.

Nobody on the team has worked in these kinds of extreme conditions before.  It creates several problems.  For instance, Detlev wears glasses, and to protect his face from the cold he has to wear goggles and a facemask over them. Both the goggles and glasses lenses quickly ice over, and he can't clean them off without causing himself injury. Once another scientist there at Summit had to lead him by the hand back to the camp buildings before he could see again. In another instance, Detlev needed to move two instruments on the tower to the same height. It was much harder than usual because he couldn't remove a glove for a moment to use a screwdriver. Worse, the electrical wires stiffen up enough so that they crack irreparably if moved.

It's a far cry from our toasty labs in Boulder!

10 November 2008 - turnover visit

Detlev in a Twin Otter, flying from Kangerlusuaq to Summit for the fall turnover visit in November 2008.

Detlev has just arrived at Summit for a two-week visit.  He will be checking on the performance of the instruments, making some adjustments to their position, and in general making sure that we can get the observational data we want in the extreme conditions on the Greenland ice sheet.

The sun is still just coming up over the horizon at this time of year in Greenland, giving about six hours of twilight per day.

September 2008

An image from the Summit Camp webcam on 12 August 2008.

Want to see what the weather is like at our field site in Greenland? A webcam at Summit Camp shows a live picture from the science site. You can also check the outside temperature, wind speed, and direction for the hour, day, week, or month.

Keep tabs on us during our expeditions, and see if that snowy, endless day (or night, in the winter) is as cold as it looks!


22 August 2008

An image from the Summit Camp webcam on 12 August 2008.

Goodbye Greenland! Brie stands by the handlettered signs that are the first--and last--things passengers see on their arrival or departure at Summit. This was Brie's last day before flying home to Colorado.

August 2008

Electricians Jeff and Nick wire up the gas shed that houses some of our equipment and gas cylinders.

Jeff and Nick are electricians who support all the science teams at Summit as part of their work for the logistics company CH2M Hill. They are wiring everything electrical in our gas shed, including an alarm system that warns us through several means (emails, sirens) if there are any gas leaks. This flux facility is where our team spent most of our waking hours while at Summit.


August 2008

First sunset in Summit Camp, 6 August 2008.

Brie sent this photo from Summit.  It's a lovely sunset on her birthday--and also the very first sunset of the year. The sun is finally swinging just a touch below the horizon for the first time since late spring.

The hangar on the left of the picture is the rec tent, which houses some exercise equipment and a DVD player. The pallets in the middle of the photo are cargo. The closest is actually a trash pallet; the scientific teams have to remove all their garbage from the ice.

July 2008

The big house holds a kitchen, common area, and shower. Hydraulic lifts keep it from being buried in winter drifts. Photo: Brie Van Dam (INSTAAR).

Summit inhabitants making pizza in the Big House kitchen. Photo: Brie Van Dam (INSTAAR).

We spend a lot of hours working in the flux facility, but we have time for relaxing too. The Big House holds a kitchen, pantry, common area, the camp manager's office, and--best of all--a bathroom with a shower. A rec tent nearby has exercise equipment, a television with DVD player.

In winter drifting snow buries anything on the ground, so the Big House stands on hydraulic lifts that keep it mostly above the snow that fills in underneath. This spring, in fact, the building got new lifts to take it a bit higher.

July 2008

Welcome to Greenland! Jacques and Kathryn just off the plane at Summit. Photo: Brie Van Dam (INSTAAR).

Brie snapped this shot from the instrument tower, on an arm about 8 meters (26 feet) above the ground on the 10-meter (33-foot) tower . Photo: Brie Van Dam (INSTAAR).

Our work is going in earnest now at Summit. Jacques and Kathryn arrived to join Brie at the station.

We sometimes have to climb the instrument tower to adjust or move equipment. It's a long way up, so anyone who goes has to have a training course and a panoply of safety gear. In the photo below, Brie is in a helmet and a full-body Petzel harness hooked onto the tower with lobster claws. There's also an ascender to catch anyone who falls while climbing.

June 2008

closeup view of spruce needles

Brian in the middle of setting up the instruments in our June 2008 trip to Greenland. Photo: Brie Van Dam (INSTAAR).

We are on the ice! We traveled north to Scotia, New York Air National Guard C-130 to Kangerlussuaq, on the coast of Greenland. We were then flown to Summit Camp. We had gorgeous views of the ice sheet from the plane windows.

We are part of a crowd: about 50 scientists are here, all setting up their projects and getting their equipment up and going. Everything was installed successfully, except the fast ozone analyzer. We are waiting for permission to use the nitric oxide gas in the instrument in the underground lab.

Our first measurements have started to come in. We are checking them over for quality and fine tuning the instruments.

May 2008

closeup view of spruce needles

May 27, 2008: David and Detlev in an airport halfway to Greenland. A commercial flight to New York State comes first, then an airlift from the National Guard 109th Air Wing from Scotia, New York to Kangerlussuaq on the coast of Greenland. Another National Guard flight lands the team at Summit Station. Photo: Brie Van Dam (INSTAAR).

We are getting ready to travel to Greenland at last. Four of us—Detlev, Brie, Brian, and David—are going to set up the instruments at Summit and begin collecting data. Our trip will be from May 27 to June 6. We are all staying late at night to finish up all the details and make sure we don’t forget anything.

April 2008

Finished at last! All the instruments are together, tested, and ready to go. They have been packed up and shipped to the 109th Air National Guard in Scotia. From there they will be flown to Greenland where the team that goes to the ice will install them in June. We are taking some deep breaths here in the lab after all that work.

March 2008

We are in the middle of getting our scientific instruments assembled that we will need in Greenland. Some of the instruments we can use right out of the box, like anemometers and UV monitors. But others, like the fast ozone analyzer, we have to build from scratch. We’ve built an ozone analyzer before for the Ozone and the Oceans project, so this one will be easier to construct—we have already solved the problem; we just need to put it all together.

We also have to test the instruments extensively to make sure that they act the way they should. We want to find any problems here in the lab, with all our tools and resources nearby—not on top of the world in Greenland.

December 2007

closeup view of spruce needles

The new flux facility at Summit. To keep air-snow interactions from being contaminated by fossil fuel engines, equipment and people have to move around by electric snowmobile, sledge, or on foot. Our team hauled all of our gear out on sleds and on foot through lots of snow. Photo: Brie Van Dam (INSTAAR).

When we’re in Greenland next summer, we’ll be working at a new flux facility at Summit, which is especially for projects like ours that look at how gases move in and out of the snow surface. A lot of teams will be working on different projects at the same time, so we’ll have plenty of company and will be sharing resources. Seems like the time is flying by until we will be up there, and there is so much to finish beforehand.


October 2007

We’re getting started on our project. We ordered two new sonic anemometer systems that we will use on the ice in Greenland.  We have to figure out how to set up all of our instruments in a way that will let us measure everything we need to when we’re in the field.  Everyone is spending time thinking, talking, drawing diagrams, and figuring out how to improve on the efforts of past projects.

September 2007

Our project has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)! Our team is excited to begin work and find out more about how ozone in the atmosphere interacts with snow. There is a lot of competition to get a grant from the NSF, so we are proud that our proposal was chosen.

Detlev and Laurens, the Principal Investigators for the project, have worked on ozone fluxes together for several years in sites from Greenland to the Azores to Antarctica. Many students will be working on this project as well, including Brie, Brian, and Gabriel. You will meet them all in the months ahead.

This research is supported by the National Science Foundation grant no. OPP 07139923.

Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recomendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.