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Real-time Observations of Greenland's Under-ice Environment (ROGUE): One Step Closer …

May 2nd, 2011 by Tom Neumann

May 1, 2011

Greetings from Greenland!

Matt and I have had a relatively uneventful day and are now situated in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. After our unscheduled stop in Goose Bay last night, we boarded a flight for Greenland late this morning. After the requisite passport check, we were free to get situated and start the next round of preparations for our field work.

Kangerlussuaq is a cross-roads of scientists during the brief summer. We had the good fortune to cross paths with Lora Koenig of NASA's Operation IceBridge mission this evening. Credit: NASA/Matt Hoffman

Matt and I have relatively little cargo with us (about ~100 pounds each), because we shipped the majority of our cargo about a month ago. All together, we have about 3000 pounds of cargo that we sent ahead of us. Most of this weight is due to the batteries that power our GPS stations, and the pipes that hold the solar panels and GPS antennas above the snow surface. We’ll post pictures of the stations, as we put them up. We’ve got to get to our field camp first!

Tom checks on cargo at the warehouse in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Everything seems to be in order! Credit: NASA/Matt Hoffman

We will be based at a camp called Swiss Camp, so named as it was originally built by … the Swiss! The camp is now run by Dr. Koni Steffen of the University of Colorado Boulder. We will have a total of four flights in the next two days, moving our cargo, as well as Koni’s. Matt and I will stay in Kanger, loading the planes, while Koni’s group will go in on the first flight, and unload the planes as they come in. We’ve got our fingers crossed for good weather the next two days.

Your trusty correspondents in this blog are Matt Hoffman and myself, Tom Neumann. Matt is a post-doc working with me at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and came to NASA from Portland State University. Matt was here in Greenland last summer setting up the first four stations in our GPS network, and has been doing all of the hard work – designing the stations, ordering all the parts, figuring out where the stations should go. I am a research scientist here at NASA and did a similar GPS survey in 2006-07 with Dr. Ginny Catania, that was the precursor  to our work this year. I’ve led or participated in 13 expeditions to cold places to date, and am looking forward to getting back on the ice sheet again.

ROGUE: Real-time Observations of Greenland’s Under-ice Environment
The goal of the ROGUE project is to examine the nature and cause of short-term ice velocity changes near Swiss Camp, Greenland, by observing interactions between the ice sheet, the atmosphere and the bed.

Real-time Observations of Greenland's Under-ice Environment (ROGUE): Goin’ ROGUE!

May 1st, 2011 by Matt Hoffman

April 30, 2011

Greetings from Greenland Canada!

Matt Hoffman, with our ride, the LC-130, in the background. Credit: NASA/Matt Hoffman

Tom Neumann and I are en route to Greenland’s ice sheet for about two weeks of field work. Yesterday morning we flew from warm and sunny Maryland to Schenectady, New York, where we stocked up on food. This morning we got up at 4:30am in order to catch a ride on a LC-130 cargo plane with the Air National Guard flying out of Stratton Guard Base.  It’s a lot like taking a commercial flight (check-in, security checkpoint, a lot of waiting), but without beverage service or proper seats! We were treated to a brief stopover in Goose Bay, Newfoundland where we could get some ice cream and refuel the aircraft. After refueling people and airplane, we discovered the airplane did not want to restart, so we have stayed for the night, while the crew works to fix the problem. So tonight, we are in Goose Bay, Labrador!

Tom Neumann: doing what he does best! Credit: NASA/Matt Hoffman

After arriving in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland (fingers crossed for tomorrow!), it will be another couple days of sorting cargo before we continue on to our science camp on the ice sheet.  Once in the field, our primary objective is to install eight GPS stations on the ice sheet to measure how fast the ice is flowing towards the ocean.  (It’s a bit like a GPS receiver in a car, but in this part of Greenland the ice flows about a foot per day, so we require receivers with much higher accuracy!)  In particular, we are curious about how the speed of the glacier changes throughout the year. Previous measurements have shown that parts of the Greenland Ice Sheet speedup a lot in summer when the snow and ice on the surface melt a lot. Meltwater that reaches the bottom of the glacier through vertical shafts called moulins will lubricate the bed, causing the ice to slip over the rock faster.

In the past, we have been able to detect this sliding in our measurements of ice speed at the surface, but figuring out exactly how this sliding works is tricky because it is happening a half mile below our feet! This summer we will return to Greenland to take part in a drilling campaign to drill through all that ice and send down sensors and cameras to observe conditions at the bottom of the ice sheet directly. The GPS stations we setup this month will give us a whole summer’s worth of speed measurements to compare against the borehole observations. The project is called Real-time Observations of the Greenland Under-ice Environment (or ROGUE, for those with a preference for acronyms). Tomorrow, we’ll send an update from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland with any luck!

ROGUE: Real-time Observations of Greenland’s Under-ice Environment
The goal of the ROGUE project is to examine the nature and cause of short-term ice velocity changes near Swiss Camp, Greenland, by observing interactions between the ice sheet, the atmosphere and the bed.