Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

GrIT Report: Days away from Summit Station

Traffic's not too bad in this 2012 image taken at Summit Station upon the GrIT team's arrival. Photos: Ed Stockard

Traffic’s not too bad in this 2012 image taken at Summit Station upon the GrIT team’s arrival. Photos: Ed Stockard

The GrIT operations team is nearly to Summit Station! After dealing with even more mechanical issues, the team’s grit and resourcefulness is on full display, reports GrIT Project Manager Geoff Phillips in the most recent situation report:

The GrIT crew is proving the name is more than just an acronym this year.

The 500 “Nanoq” tractor is still having transmission troubles and does not have any of the lower gears available. Pat and Robin have replaced the transmission fluid and are cleaning and refitting filters as they become clogged, which has steadily decreased over the last few days. The tractor can move under its own power and the team has started using it to assist the other tractors with their loads, increasing speed and mileage.

The “leap-frogging” method they are currently using to get all four sleds to Summit appears to be working as good as any of the other options available, with the added bonus of keeping the team together and arriving with all the sleds at once.

Yesterday the team sent two tractors and one load 20 miles past camp while the other tractors went back to pick up the sled they left behind. With this arrangement we are expecting to get 30 miles per day, assuming no mechanical issues or other unforeseen troubles.

The team is currently 103 miles from Summit with an anticipated arrival date of Thursday, 8 May.

Home, sweet home. A view of tent city at Summit during the GrIT's 2012 arrival.

Home, sweet home. A view of tent city at Summit during the GrIT’s 2012 arrival.

In light of the troubles the team is having, this is good news that they are still pulling off 30 miles per day and that the tractor appears stable enough to drive itself and potentially assist with hauling loads on the return trip.

The Arctic Research Support and Logistics Program within the National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs funds the Greenland Inland Traverse. CH2M HILL Polar Services and Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratories are working together with the NSF to develop the traverse infrastructure and route to Summit Station. The 2014 spring traverse delivers fuel and cargo to Summit Station, continues efforts to optimize mobility, and provides a research platform for Zoe Courville’s NSF-funded scientific research project.

Monitor GrIT and SAGE progress here. 
Follow the SAGE science traverse via their blog. For more field notes coverage of GrIT, click here.