Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

Checking in on Summit

 Frosty Freeze

The walk back from the atmospheric watch building seems a bit longer on cold winter days. From this point of view, Summit Station's science and operations building nudges the iconic Big House, with its roof-perched radome and welcoming porch light. Photo: Shannon Coykendall

We were glad to read that cold north winds, which for several weeks had been dominating the weather reports from Summit Station, subsided last week. A welcome relief to deep freeze conditions reported earlier. “We hit a wind chill of -107F earlier today and the ambient temperature is around -67F…it doesn’t take much wind to make it bite!”, wrote Shannon Coykendall on 30 November.

The moon rises over a winter storage berm at Summit Station. Photo: Shannon Coykendall

In addition to bringing the cold, north winds can blow exhaust from station generators into the pristine sampling zone. Ongoing atmospheric and snow chemistry measurements are impacted when the station’s emissions mix into the signal. So, during periods when the winds blow from the north, station personnel avoid activities that create exhaust.

Twice during late November and early December, the staff had to fire heavy equipment to collect snow to resupply the station’s water supply during north wind conditions. Each time, the science technicians followed protocol and notified the research community.

Heavy equipment stored outside at Summit Station in Greenland gets a nice layer of frost. Photo: Shannon Coykendall

Finally, last week, “Summit crawled out from underneath the north winds that have dominated the past few weeks. Bringing clouds and warmer weather, the southerlies created an opportune chance to catch up on making water and for the science techs to perform their non-north wind tasking,” wrote station manager Ben Toth. “The winds also gained strength this week, reaching sustained speeds of 15.5 knots. Temperatures this week ranged from a low of -60 C on Tuesday to a high of a balmy -34 C on Saturday.”–Kip Rithner

4 thoughts on “Checking in on Summit

  1. Nessus

    I am in awe of all of you at Summit Station. Love the photographs, thank you. I turn on the heater if it gets below 75 F.

    God bless you all,

    West Palm Beach

  2. Kip Post author

    Thank you, Nessus. I’ll pass the comment on to the staff. They’re getting ready to welcome a new team of five for the last phase of winter operations, so I’m sure everyone at Summit is looking forward to experiencing warmer climes in the near future!

  3. Nessus

    Kip, you all have my utmost admiration. Just completed reading a book about the Polaris-Hays expedition. I have a new interest of the Arctic from reading the book. I got a whole new respect for the Arctic and it’s beauty, mostly for the people who live and work there.

    God bless you all,

    West Palm Beach

  4. Kip Post author

    Hi Nessus,
    I empathize with your interest–I was in a PhD program in English, happily teaching freshman writing courses, when Antarctica hijacked my life! In the Arctic, the human story adds another dimension to polar considerations. Endlessly fascinating. Send questions if you have them and we’ll try to get them answered–we know a few people who know a few things!

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