After a 2 hour C-130 flight from Kangerlussuaq, the ladies of C4 have arrived at Summit! We were greeted by the incredibly hospitable staff of scientists working at the base… and some windy and cold weather conditions.
Summit Station is a research station located on the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet (~10,500 ft) and was built in 1989 to support the GISP2 (Greenland Ice Sheet Project Two) ice core drilling project. The station consists of the “Big House”, a big blue building on stilts, the “Greenhouse”, a living facility for the more permanent scientists, “tent city” for all of us passing through and those preferring a crisper sleeping environment, and a few other science support and instrument buildings.
The first thing we did upon arrival at Summit was to help bring all the “freshies” (fresh produce) into the Big House that came with us on our flight. Summit has a reputation of having fantastic food– this year was absolutely no exception. Kathy (our very talented cook) created some incredible meals… hopefully we’ll be able to replicate some of her recipes later on in the field!
Since Summit Station is at ~10,500 feet and we had just come from sea level, most of the first day was spent trying to limit our physical activity and acclimatize to the lower levels of oxygen. Clearly hiking and digging snow pits were out of the question, so we did the next best thing- volunteered as “house mouse” for the day! It’s a job that rotates around camp and the person (or people in our case) help clean dishes, wipe down tables and tidy up the Big House.
After helping clean up the Big House and moving food into the kitchen, it was now time to move into our living quarters for the next few days… Welcome to “tent city”, an arrangement of 16 or so tents in the middle of the living areas. Each tent was an Arctic Oven tent and was furnished with a cot and at least 2 sleeping pads on top of that. Usually, when not at maximum capacity, everyone gets their own tent- all of us living in “tent city” were among the lucky ones to have a whole tent to ourselves.
During working hours (which are quite variable here given that presently the sun does not set), everyone is out and about either working on their science or working to keep the base up and running. There are generally less than 20 people that reside at Summit Station during the summer and are needed to keep it running- but the station can hold over 55 people. The maximum number of people at Summit during our stay was also the maximum number of people at the station this summer- we topped out at 46 people!
After everyone has put in a long day of science and Summit work has been done, we’re able to relax a little bit after dinner before bed. So far some of our favorite activities have been playing some group board games or sitting in the Big House and playing some music!
Stay tuned for more science updates from Summit- but so far it has been fantastic being up here at the highest point in Greenland!