Collaborative Research: NSFGEO-NERC: Integrated Characterization of Energy, Clouds, Atmospheric state, and Precipitation at Summit: Measurements along Lagrangian Transects

PI Institute/Department Email
Walden, Von
Washington State University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Shupe, Matthew
U of Colorado, Boulder, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences
Hawley, Robert
Dartmouth College, Department of Earth Sciences
L'Ecuyer, Tristan
University of Wisconsin, Department of Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences
Marshall, Hans-Peter
Boise State University, Geosciences Department
Bennartz, Ralf
U of Wisconsin, Madison
Funding Agency
Meteorology and Climate\Atmospheric Radiation; Meteorology and Climate\Cloud Physics
Science Summary

This is a project that is jointly funded by the National Science Foundation’s Directorate of Geosciences (NSF/GEO) and the National Environment Research Council (UKRI/NERC) of the United Kingdom (UK) via the NSF/GEO-NERC Lead Agency Agreement. This Agreement allows a single joint US/UK proposal to be submitted and peer-reviewed by the Agency whose investigator has the largest proportion of the budget. Upon successful joint determination of an award, each Agency funds the proportion of the budget and the investigators associated with its own proposals and component of the work. 

This research project continues an 11-year field experiment called the Integrated Characterization of Energy, Clouds, Atmospheric state, and Precipitation at Summit (ICECAPS) and adds measurements along Lagrangian transects (ICECAPS-MELT). The project is an international collaboration that has been operating ground-based instruments at Summit Station in Greenland since 2010, taking observations of the atmosphere to advance understanding of cloud properties, radiation and surface energy, and precipitation processes over the Greenland Ice Sheet. It is an important time to make these observations because Greenland is undergoing changes due to rapid shifts in Arctic climate. The current project continues the observations made at Summit Station and expands measurements along transects to another important region of Greenland called the percolation zone. In this zone, melt water is generated at the surface, where it can percolate down into the snow and then refreeze. This creates ice layers that can cause additional melt water to move horizontally rather than vertically. It is important to understand these processes because melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet is a significant contributor to global sea level, which is predicted to impact humans significantly over the next century. 

This new ICECAPS-MELT project complements the ICECAPS Summit observatory by building a new mobile observatory for measuring parameters of the surface mass and energy budgets of the Greenland Ice Sheet. This observatory uses a novel approach for unattended, autonomous operation by supporting instruments that require moderate power and internet bandwidth yet are quite like those operated at Summit Station. The new observatory measures surface mass and energy budget parameters, including precipitation, cloud properties, radiative and turbulent fluxes, near-surface meteorology, and subsurface temperatures and structure. To do this, the ICECAPS-MELT team deploys a precipitation radar, a cloud lidar, a microwave radiometer, a ground-penetrating radar, and an automated surface flux station, which consume approximately 500 W of power under normal conditions. The project will lead to new insights into how parameters of the surface mass and energy budgets co-vary in space and time between this new observatory and the ongoing measurements at Summit. Trajectory analyses track the changes in air parcels as they ascend the Greenland Ice Sheet and pass over the two observational sites. The mobile observatory will be deployed in successive summers at Summit Station in the dry-snow zone and at the DYE-2 station in the percolation zone. If this project is successful, a network of these observatories will be proposed for future deployment in southwestern Greenland, which will provide new insights into how atmospheric properties and processes are coupled both spatially and temporally to the ice sheet’s surface and subsurface conditions over Greenland.

Logistics Summary

Researchers on this collaboration between Walden (2137083, lead, Washington State University), Shupe (2137091, University of Colorado at Boulder), Hawley (2137098, Dartmouth College) L’Ecuyer (2137152, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Marshall (2137120, Boise State University), with collaboration from non-NSF award Neely (NE/X002403/1, University of Leeds), will continue research conducted under NSF grants 0856773, 1414314, and 1801764. The Integrated Characterization of Energy, Clouds, Atmospheric state, and Precipitation at Summit (ICECAPS) project has been continuously operating at Summit Station since 2010. The project entails year-round operation of a sophisticated suite of ground-based instruments for observing clouds, precipitation, and atmospheric structure, including radar, lidar, ceilometer, microwave radiometers, solar and longwave radiometers, infrared spectrometer, sodar, precipitation sensors, and radiosondes. Starting in 2018, this project also included a collaboration with the University of Leeds to provide aerosol spectrometers and surface energy flux instrumentation. The research team will continue the operation of existing ICECAPS instrumentation and radiosonde releases at Summit Station. Throughout the project, a Battelle ARO science technician will monitor project instruments and oversee radiosonde balloon releases. 

In 2022, a science field team travelled to Summit Station to resume project measurements in May and to perform routine service of the project instrumentation. The PAERI instrument was temporarily shipped from Summit Station to the US for major service and was returned to Summit Station in September. 

In 2023, a science team will travel to Summit Station in April to perform routine maintenance on the science instruments. The science team will install their autonomous science platform at Summit Station and allow it to operate for 3.5 months of testing. The system will receive electrical power from Summit Station during this test. Remote science team communications with the platform will be through a dedicated satellite network device and an Ethernet connection to the station network. In July, the team will return to uninstall the science platform and ship it back to the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO. The science team will raise and service instruments on the Met Tower. And the science team will fly a “helikite” tethered balloon-kite hybrid to support an instrument package. In addition, in 2023, the science team will develop a renewable-energy power system and test it in Boulder, CO. 

Battelle ARO will provide Air National Guard (ANG) coordination for passengers and cargo and lodging in Kangerlussuaq. At Summit Station, Battelle ARO will provide Summit Station user days; science technician support; rigger support; physical space, power, and network connection in the Mobile Science Facility (MSF), Atmospheric Watch Observatory (AWO), and Met Tower; outgoing network bandwidth of 700 MB/day; liquid nitrogen; and supplies for radiosonde releases. Battelle ARO will procure satellite communications components and service, as well as renewable energy design review and components for the renewable energy power system. The PIs will make all other arrangements and pay for them through their respective grants.

Season Field Site Date In Date Out #People
Greenland - Summit
Greenland - Summit
Greenland - Summit