Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

Around Summit Station

Deep freeze: Mark Melcon (CMDR) works on the cargo berm. The sky has been getting lighter since the winter solstice on December 21. Photo: Karl Newyear

The new year brought a brighter sky to Summit Station. As station manager Karl Newyear wrote last week, ” Things are moving along here at Summit.  The workload doesn’t vary much from day to day but the increasing daylight makes it feel like progress.  The next crew is scheduled to arrive here [around 2 February] so yes, like the physical horizon, this time horizon is starting to come into view.”

Inside the Temporary Atmospheric Watch Observatory (TAWO). Why so dressed up? "On this particular day Glenn had only about 10 minutes' work inside TAWO and so he left his outdoor clothing on. The science technicians check the operation of the various instruments daily and ensure the data looks good," Karl wrote. Karl joined Glenn on his rounds to observe (for safety reasons) while Glenn cleared rime from meteorological instruments mounted on a 50-meter tower outside. Photo: Karl Newyear

There's always something to do at Summit. Here, Karl (left) and CMDR install some shelves in a barn-like building originally used to test the WAIS drill now working its way down to bedrock in West Antarctica. Photo: Katie Koster

Of course, today, Karl’s weekly report tells a different story. “The weather this week has been, in a word, windy.  A storm system slowly moved across our area bringing a low barometric reading of 650 mb and winds of over 20 knots sustained for 4 days, 30 knots for 2 days, and topping out over 40 knots for nearly 12 hours.  We are currently experiencing reduced winds, though it’s unclear whether this is temporary or a trend. . . . Blowing snow and generally poor visibility have prevented us from enjoying the increasing daylight around mid-day which occurred earlier in the week, prior to the storm’s arrival.” 

The wind storms have played havoc with the landscape around the station, creating huge drifts that reform the minute the staff put down their shovels. For now, Summiteers are letting the wind win the battle.

As they blow toward the end of their time tending the science experiments continually operating at the National Science Foundation-managed research outpost way out in the middle of Greenland’s ice blanket, the team has started dreaming of the Twin Otter, which will arrive packed with replacement staff and “freshies” (fruits and veggies) in a matter of weeks.  Beyond that Twin Otter: the next adventure (for some) or the homeward journey (for others).

For more on Summit Station, visit www.Summitcamp.org.