Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

Summit Station: On to Phase II

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NOAA Science Technician Ben Gross dusts rime (delicate build-up of frozen water droplets) from instruments mounted on the atmospheric watch tower. Photo: Ben Toth

“The emotional and tear-streaked departure of the Phase I crew was tempered somewhat by the arrival of a cornucopia of freshies,” joked new Phase II station manager Ben Toth in this week’s report from Summit Station.

Ben’s referencing the 9 November exit of the Phase I winter team. They departed on the same plane that brought fresh fruits and veggies to the research outpost managed by the U.S. National Science Foundation in cooperation with the government of Greenland.  

The week since has seen the Phase II team—science technicians Ben Gross, Shannon Coykendall, and Lance Roth; mechanic Don Kirkpatrick; and Ben Toth—settle in to the routine tasks associated with keeping the small research station running smoothly. While the science technicians monitor, sample, measure and report to PIs for the host of experiments running year-round, Kirkpatrick and Toth melt snow for the team’s water supply, conduct maintenance on generators and other station equipment, complete inventories of gear and supplies, and take care of whatever may arise due to the ice sheet’s ferocious winter conditions.  Last week, one such unplanned activity was the building of an improvised cover for the “freshie shack,” which got a little too cold for comfort during a recent blow. Ben reported that, except for some lettuce that wilted in the cold, the “tough little soldiers” survived the event.

Chuckle if you like, but when the nearest grocery store is about three months away, people tend to think of fresh (and fresh-ish) fruits and veggies with a certain fondness. Which is not to say the “tough little soldiers” will be spared when the time comes, of course.

Besides settling in to the phase, our team said goodbye to “a fog-veiled sun,”  as Toth described it, on Saturday, 13 November, at 14:55 (2:55 p.m.) Western Greenland Time (WGT). “[We] will start working on our tans on (I think) January 29th at 11:06 WGT,” he continued. Meanwhile, the group is enjoying another kind of light–the greens, blues, and purples of the aurora borealis, that is. Stay tuned for more from the world’s roof in upcoming posts.–Kip Rithner

Nightie-night. Last sunset of 2010 at Summit Station, Greenland, 13 November. Photo: Ben Toth

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