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 - 10 of 10

AON: Atmospheric Tracers for Arctic Wildfires, Air Pollution, Atmospheric Chemistry, and Climate Change at GEOSummit, Greenland (Award# 1822406)

PI Institute/Department Email
Wiedinmyer, Christine
U of Colorado, Boulder, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science
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.

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.

Danish Automatic Weather Station

PI Institute/Department Email
Hansen, Jens
Danish Meteorological Institute
Science Summary

The Danish Meteorological Institute operates an Autonomous Weather Station (AWS) at Summit. This AWS is part of a network that provides forecasting and warning services as well as continuous monitoring of weather, sea state, climate, and related environmental conditions in the atmosphere, over land, and in the sea.

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 fulfills 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 scientific 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
Willer, Anna Naemi
DTU Space, Technical University of Denmark
Science Summary
The project plans use 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 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center 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 are valuable, due the Central Greenland location and connections to the array described next. (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 are interpreted in combination with satellite observations (e.g. NASA's Themis mission, ESA's Cluster mission), or with conjugate stations from Antarctica. The proposed Summit Station magnetometer experiment will both provide data from the electrically insulating ice cap as well as provide improved geographical coverage. 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.

Measuring mantle hydrogen content to map ore-forming fluids and model plate tectonics

PI Institute/Department Email
Selway, Katherine (Kate) Mary
Macquarie University, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Science Summary

This project uses the geophysical method magnetotellurics (MT), which images the electrical conductivity of the Earth to depths of ~400 km. In Greenland, the aim of this work is to constrain mantle viscosity and improve ice-loss calculations. The electrical conductivity of the Earth’s upper mantle is most strongly controlled by temperature, hydrogen content and the presence of melt. These three factors also control its viscosity (resistance to flow), so MT data are one of the best ways to measure mantle viscosity. This is particularly important for Greenland since viscosity is one of the most important and poorly constrained inputs into glacial isostatic adjustments models. These models seek to account for the mantle’s slow response to past changes in ice sheet thickness and to remove this long-term signal from current measurements of ice loss. Greenland’s mantle viscosity is likely to be particularly complex. Mantle rocks from northern and southern Greenland are ancient, with cold temperatures and depleted compositions that would be expected to have high viscosity. However, the Iceland Plume passed beneath central Greenland ~40 to 100 million years ago, and that section of mantle is likely to have been heated and hydrated, giving it a lower viscosity. This project’s long-term aim is to collect MT data over several areas on Greenland to image the mantle both over the Iceland Plume track and distal from it. Summit Station is ideally located to image the Greenland mantle that has been impacted by the Iceland Plume. They will model the data and interpret the results in terms of mantle viscosity and then feed these viscosity calculations into improved glacial isostatic adjustment models. The MT data will also image any sub-ice melt layers, so they will also be able to test the hypothesis that increased surface heat flow over the Iceland Plume track is leading to increased sub-ice melting. In the work at Summit in 2018, researchers plan to carry out an initial study in which they will: (1) Deploy two long-period instruments in the vicinity of Summit to provide information on mantle conductivity, electrical dimensionality and strike direction, in order to plan the geometry of future, deep-field campaigns. (2) Deploy a network of broad-band instruments in the vicinity of Summit to investigate the presence of basal melt layers. (1) Test different instruments and electrodes in side-by-side tests to compare data quality and determine optimal instrument configurations. MT instruments are passive (only recording naturally occurring electric and magnetic fields) and are powered by batteries and solar panels. They consist of a magnetometer or magnetometers, which must be shallowly buried for stability, a logger unit, and two electric dipoles, which consist of metal plates shallowly buried in snow/ice, separated by ~100 m. The whole area for a station deployment is therefore ~100 x 100 m. The sensors are extremely sensitive so stations must be deployed at least ~1 km from electrical noise and physical vibrations.

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 funded by the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council. ICECAPS-ACE will continue to make routine observations of the atmosphere, but has added 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. Currently the GrIS 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 properties at Summit Station to better understand the Arctic climate system and contribute to the Earth monitoring mission of their worldwide observation network. GMD’s mission it to acquire, evaluate, and make available accurate, long-term records of atmospheric gases, aerosol particles, clouds, and surface radiation in a manner that allows the causes and consequences of change to be understood. GMD’s current measurements at Summit include: 1. Halocarbon and other Atmospheric Trace Gases (HATS) Flasks: weekly to biweekly collection of air samples, analyzed in the U.S. (Boulder, CO) for trace gases (50+ species measured) that are important to global halocarbon chemistry, such as ozone-depleting CFCs, oxidation studies, and stratospheric ozone. These measurements have been ongoing since 2004. 2. Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network (GGGRN) Flasks: weekly collection of air samples, analyzed in the U.S. (Boulder, CO) for gases (30+ species measured) relevant to the global carbon cycle, including CO2 and methane. This sampling was first performed during several winters in the period 1997-2002 and has been performed year-round since 2003. 3. In-situ Aerosol Sampling: observations of aerosol optical properties to determine aerosol radiative effects. These measurements were initiated in 2003, with the instrument suite upgraded in 2009 and 2017. 4. Surface Ozone: observations of tropospheric ozone concentration. These measurements were taken from 2000 to 2002, and then from 2003 onward. 5. Surface Meteorology: observations of surface meteorological properties to support science, flight operations, and general station activities. These measurements have been ongoing since summer 2005.

Partnerships for polar science education and outreach in Greenland (JSEP) and Antarctica (JASE) (Award# 1748137)

PI Institute/Department Email
Culler, Lauren Elizabeth
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 training the next generation of STEM professionals and for polar-science outreach. JSEP, a project of the Joint Committee, was initiated in 2007 to educate students and teachers from Greenland, Denmark, and the U.S. The program brings US students together with Danish and Greenlandic students in Greenland where the group spends three weeks studying the causes and consequences of Arctic 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. Dartmouth will organize a nation-wide application process to select high school student participants each year and will work with the international program coordinators to design student activities and learning experiences. In addition to coordinating each field-based program for U.S. high school students, Dartmouth will work to broaden the impact of these programs by sending a team of graduate student and faculty researchers with polar field experience to lead scientific components of JSEP and JASE, work with Greenlandic and Chilean educators to disseminate JSEP and JASE polar science outcomes to local audiences during the field-based expeditions, adapt JSEP and JASE polar science field activities for use in U.S. and international classrooms, provide training in cross-cultural science communication for diverse audiences to Dartmouth graduate students and the campus community, and assess skill- and content-based outcomes for high school and graduate student participants in JSEP and JASE. Societal benefits include building international networks of students, educators, stakeholders, future leaders, and polar scientists; diversifying the US polar scientific workforce, and generating polar science educational tools and modules that are freely accessible to students and teachers in multiple languages. This program addresses national priorities by developing a U.S. scientific workforce that is knowledgeable about the Arctic and the Antarctic, regions that are of growing importance to U.S. economic development and national security. The Joint Committee, a high-level government forum between the U.S., Greenlandic, and Danish governments, initiated JSEP during the International Polar Year in 2007. Since its inception, high school students and teachers from Greenland, Denmark, and the U.S. have traveled to Greenland to participate in two JSEP educational programs, Kangerlussuaq Science Field School and Science and Education Week. In 2013, the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH), invited the United States to participate in their Expedición Antártica Escolar (EAE), a program to promote awareness and appreciation of Antarctica in young Chileans. Both JSEP and JASE aim to 1) educate and inspire the next generation of polar scientists, 2) build strong networks of students, teachers and researchers among the participating countries, and 3) improve language and communication skills by taking teams of students to the polar regions to share in polar science activities. Dartmouth will conduct assessments of outcomes for the current high school students and graduate student polar fellows as well as surveys of alumni from previous U.S., Danish, Greenlandic, and Chilean participants.