Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Clear skies brought frigid weather to the Greenland ice sheet last week, as temperatures hovered around -50⁰ (and sank below that) at Summit Station. The five staff tending the research outpost during the darkest phase of winter (we introduced you to them here) kept indoors as much as possible, putting the chess board to good use and tending to some newly planted tomatoes in their free time.

We’re told the team is doing well, experienced polar explorers all. As you can see in the following picture, the sky also kept them entertained.

A near-full moon is no match for the aurora borealis, a-light here over Summit Station. Photo: Glenn Grant

A rounded moon is no match for auroras blazing over the Big House, Summit Station. Photo: Glenn Grant

The picture reminds us of a news story we saw a few weeks back.  Alaska Science Forum writer Ned Rozell’s recent story on how solar activity generates auroras includes a comment by a solar expert at University of Alaska.  “’The aurora hasn’t been too exciting lately,’” says Dirk Lummerzheim of the university’s Geophysical Institute.  But experts predict a two-year period of relatively little solar activity may be coming to an end, giving way to sunspots and flares that generate intense auroras. These could be viewable as far south as Seattle. Eyes on the skies, guys!