Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

What a Zero!

Presenting the 2009 winner of the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge in the zero emissions (ZE) category: the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Presenting the 2009 winner of the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge in the zero emissions (ZE) category: the University of Wisconsin-Madison

The snowmobile is seen here at Summit Station near an air intake for sampling instruments (operated by Detlev Helmig of University of Colorado and Michigan Technical University) that monitor near-surface ozone and other chemicals. These experiments are located in a clean air zone of the station, where traditional vehicle traffic is barred.

The ZE snowmobile is a welcome addition to Summit Station’s summer research program, because the sled avoids emissions produced by traditional vehicles that can cloud data from instruments sampling global atmospheric constituents, global transport of soot, and other highly sensitive measurements. The snowmobile also supports ongoing efforts to shrink the station’s carbon footprint.

The U Wisconsin-Madison team has developed a very sophisticated (and fast) package. Photo: Tracy Dahl

The U Wisconsin-Madison team has developed a very sophisticated (and fast) package. Photo: Tracy Dahl

The National Science Foundation sponsors the Clean Snowmobile Challenge, and for the past several years has invited a student from the winning team, and the snowmobile, to Summit for field experience and testing. In addition to operating the vehicle in real-world conditions, the student tours the station to learn about the research being conducted there.