Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

It’s All an ACT!

Arctic Circle Traverse

Rick Forster and Jason Box are all smiles in the end. All photos: Jason Box

In April, a team of researchers led by Rick Forster (U Utah) assembled in Kangerlussuaq to prepare for a snowmachine traverse and drilling campaign called the Arctic Circle Traverse (ACT).  Jason Box (Ohio State U) collaborates on this NSF-funded effort to fill data gaps in snow accumulation in the southeastern portion of the Greenland Ice Sheet, where such information is largely lacking.

A small team was to drill three 50-meter cores, which contain snow accumulation information for the last 50 or 60 years. Another team would traverse by snowmachine along a transect line, pulling a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) that also would collect accumulation data for the last 50-60 years.  Over-flights by a NASA climate project would collect these data as well. When compared to each other, scientists would gain a clearer picture of how to interpret the climate signals in each set of data.

Icy treasure protrudes from the drill barrel.

The field team was beset from the start by weather, mechanical and even volcanic issues, which served the project a two-week delay right off the bat. Eventually, with plan Z on the table, the traverse team put in near Raven Camp by LC-130. With nearly two weeks of fine weather, the scientists were able to harvest their cores and GPR data before leaving the island.

Twin Otter pilot Lindsey Hancock describes early season delays in this sketch.

But in this photo of ice cores being cached for later retrieval, Box shows that the season was a success despite delays.

Visit Jason Box’s Web page on the ACT project: Along with more detail on the research, you can read a trip log kept by the team during the spring odyssey. It provides a clear picture of just how patient, spontaneous, and flexible researchers working at the poles need to be.

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