Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

GrIT Report: Plugging along

The GrIT team makes steady progress in this 2011 image. Photo: Pat Smith

The GrIT team makes steady progress in this 2011 image. Photo: Pat Smith

The GrIT operations team is averaging 29 miles per day, but with erratic mileage. Snow conditions have a big impact on towing capability. Still, the expedition is moving forward and is on track to reach Summit May 4, according to GrIT Project Manager Geoff Phillips.

Daily mileage seems to be at the mercy of the snow conditions. The last two days, the teams have averaged 29 miles per day, which is very close to our estimate of 30 miles per day through this stretch. Unfortunately, towing conditions are inconsistent. They had a 39 mile day on Thursday followed by a 19 mile day on Friday.

Pat Smith suspects the snow storm they were anticipating on Thursday (but never saw) may have deposited a lot of soft snow and contributed to Friday’s poor towing conditions.

The GrIT crew was able to regain one day in the schedule, but given the unpredictable daily mileage, we suspect that will fluctuate before they arrive at Summit, which we currently expect to be May 4.

The GrIT crew dropped pressure in the ARCS pontoons down to 1.5 PSI. They were concerned that the pressure was raising the decks too high and potentially contributing to the failing T-Nuts holding the sidewalls to the HMW sheets. This and the pontoons sliding out from the decks appear to have stabilized following the work they did earlier in the week.

No serious mechanicals to speak of in the last few days.

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.