Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

Update on GrIT

Mere hours (and a favorable weather forecast) stand between the GrIT operations and SAGE research teams and their long-awaited adventures on the Greenland ice sheet. All are raring to go as they hold at the transition between land and ice near Thule Air Base. They’re watching the weather closely, as GriT Project Manager Geoff Phillips writes in his latest report (from Saturday, April 5), excerpted below. 

The view through a frosty window. GrIT 2014. Photo: Robin Davies

The view through a frosty window. GrIT 2014. Photo: Robin Davies

The last few days have seen one storm roll out and another roll in, with one glorious hour of beautiful weather in between. That hour was enough to raise the hopes of the crew that they may get a full day of work in but the winds ramped up all day and crested at about 35mph in the afternoon. We were able to work through the day but most of the effort went into digging out and relocating sleds that had been buried in drifts from the blow on Wednesday.

The remaining jobs to complete are loading up the fueling system and ancillary equipment on the back of the fuel sled; securing all that equipment as well as the totes that have already been loaded; finalizing all the straps, drums, rigging; and probably digging out the sleds one last time. Due to the storm that ramped up all day yesterday and the forecast for 30 mph in town today, which typically translates to double that at the transition, the crew decided to take their “crew rest” day today and finalize the loads tomorrow, when the weather is supposed to improve again. The GrIT crew needs one good day to finalize preparations before launching GrIT’14.  With good weather and a Monday launch, GrIT will be 2 days behind their scheduled launch of April 5th.

The SAGE team arrived last week and finalized their configuration this morning. Their team of four are also eager to get out of Thule and start their expedition. They are extremely well organized and have been easy to work with. The GrIT crew is happy to have such an experienced team along for the ride through the crevasse field.

SAGE PI Zoe Courville taking a snow core. Photo: Robin Davies

SAGE PI Zoe Courville taking a snow core. Photo: Robin Davies

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.

Once they’re under way, monitor GrIT and SAGE progress here: http://www.datatransport.org/grit/
Follow the SAGE science traverse via their blog: http://coldregionscience.wordpress.com/
For more field notes coverage of GrIT, click here.

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