Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

Touring and Tooling Around Thule

Thule Air Base, September 2009. Photos: Susan Zager

Thule Air Base, September 2009. Photos: Susan Zager

PFS’ Susan Zager visited Thule Air Base earlier this month to complete various end-of-season activities. She also gave a presentation on NSF research activities supported by CPS at Thule for the new US Ambassador to Denmark, Laurie S. Fulton

(Back in Copenhagen mid-month, Ambassador Fulton and Danish science minister Helge Sander signed a bilateral research cooperation agreement. In her remarks at the signing, the ambassador commented that she was “fascinated by the research being undertaken ‘On Top of the World’”, and said about international scientists working in Greenland, “their cooperative and collaborative efforts are remarkable.”  That’s just what we were thinking.)

Also touring Thule and present for Susan’s talk:  Commander Henrik Bunde Kudsk, Greenland Island Commander, the highest ranking Danish military officer in Greenland.  Commander Kudsk has a smorgasbord of responsibilities—military defense of Greenland, maritime monitoring, environmental oversight, search and rescue, fisheries monitoring, and scientific research oversight among them—and his office has been very helpful to us over the years.

 Meanwhile, the New York Air National Guard 109th was also at Thule shuttling fuel to CFS Alert after delivering cargo and passengers to Thule for the GrIT sled tests. In addition to these planned activities, the Guard was called upon to evacuate a Danish member of parliament, who broke his arm shortly after arriving at the air base.  CPS worked with the National Science Foundation, Air National Guard, US state department, and the Danish government in Copenhagen to arrange the Danish PM’s transport to Kangerlussuaq, so he wouldn’t have to wait days for the next scheduled commercial flight out of Thule.

Prior to departing Thule, Susan visited field sites for scientists conducting research at Thule, including those for the NSF-funded International Tundra Experiment (ITEX, Steve Oberbauer, Florida International U, overall lead PI; Jeff Welker, U Alaska, Thule PI).  ITEX researchers study changes in the phenology, vegetation, and ecosystem properties that have occurred in tundra over the past 10-15 years in response to climate change and experimental warming.

This weather station near Thule air base monitors/collects a slew of climatic information used by ITEX researchers: temperature, air pressure, wind speed/direction, humidity, precipitation, etc.
This weather station near Thule monitors/collects a slew of climatic information used by ITEX researchers: temperature, air pressure, wind speed/direction, humidity, precipitation, etc.