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Archive for the ‘Travel between’ Category

Alexandra is on her way to the remote field site in the Khumbu Region. She only has intermittent internet access and managed to email us some photos of her journey. Scroll down for a sight of Mt. Everest!

Morning in Khumjung

Morning in Khumjung

On the trail

On the trail

Another trail shot

Another trail shot

Me at our first view of Everest (on the left!)

Me at our first view of Everest (on the left!)

 

 

 

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After three fantastic weeks at Summit, our group of four (IGERTeer Ben Walker, Allison, Jim and I) will return to the US tomorrow. Our last week was very productive and full of radar surveys! Thanks to our colleagues at the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS), we have a spectacular, cutting-edge radar system that we are using to look at ice layers in the snow. We pull the radar across the snow using a snowmobile so that we can cover lots of ground at a set speed. We had hoped that our friend the Cool Robot would be able to tow the radar, but weighing in at over 400 pounds, the CReSIS radar system proved to be too great an adversary, and the Cool Robot could not quite make the cut on the softer snow.

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Might look like a smurf, but that’s me running a radar survey with the CReSIS Snow Radar. (Photo: Allison Morlock)

The Cool Robot was able to do a special radar survey for the camp by taking a look at an old freezer trench (where food and ice cores were once stored) that had been buried several years ago. The robot drove over the freezer trench pulling the smaller radar system to see if any cavities remained where the freezer once was. Check out the glamor shot below of the Cool Robot with the Summit “Big House” in the background.

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Cool Robot running a radar survey of Summit’s old freezer trench. (Photo: Tom)

In our journey homeward, we had the great fortune of catching up with Ruth, Christine, Jess and Zach in Kangerlussuaq for dinner. We enjoyed some food from the local “Polar Bear Inn” and swapped stories about our trips –ours coming to an end and theirs just beginning. The Kanger crew headed back to their camp to get ready for another big day of science on the tundra tomorrow. Our agenda for tomorrow includes a flight back to Scotia with the Air National Guard. Once I’m back in Hanover, I’ll be pulling together the data I gathered during our trip to make plans for our next visit to Summit in mid-July.

I can’t thank the Summit Station crew enough for all that they did to make our visit go so smoothly. Though a few days late at this point, the sentiments are still there–wishing everyone a happy solstice and the best of luck for the rest of the field season. Greenland, I’ll be back soon!

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The crew at Summit wishing a happy solstice to all! (Photo: Katie Hess)

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Greetings from the International terminal at Baltimore Airport! I’m currently waiting for my 2:00AM flight to Thule, Northwest Greenland and am excited to begin my third season there (and my fifth trip to Greenland!).

In 2011 and 2012, I blogged about our scientific ventures in Thule (click here to see my older posts). In a nutshell, our work there focuses on unraveling past climate changes, constraining both how temperature has varied and how the ice sheet has responded.

Now, I’m on my way up to Thule to continue our work. For the next three weeks, I’ll be primarily focused on mapping the surficial geology of the landscape, and collecting rock samples in order to determine the age of the landscape. This season is particularly exciting since the team consists solely of myself and Everett Lasher, a PhD student at Northwestern. We’ll continue to provide updates as our work progresses, so stay tuned!

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The first of the IGERTs are up in Greenland as the 2013 field season begins. Ben Walker and I (IGERT cohort 4s) are up at Summit Station in Greenland for the next three and a half weeks with Dr. Jim Lever from CRREL and Alison Morlock (a recent Thayer MS graduate – congrats!). We will be working with the Cool Robot – a solar powered robot that is designed to carry instruments across polar ice sheets for scientific research. I have a few different projects that I’ll be working on up here, and the science is just getting started!

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Spectacular view out of the window of the LC-130 cargo plane! My best guess at a location is Northern Canada!

We had a great trip from Scotia up to Kangerlussuaq on Monday, and only a night in Kanger before heading up to Summit. We still took the time to take a walk around Kanger and up to Lake Ferguson. After the unfortunate washout of the bridge last summer, construction of the bridge across the river in town is moving along, but it is still not complete. We were able to take a route around and over to the lake. We were surprised to find that there was still ice on the lake!

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There was still ice covering most of Lake Ferguson!

We received a very warm welcome from the crews at Kanger and at Summit, and we are so thankful of all they have done for us already! The rest of the week has been spent acclimatizing to the altitude, unpacking and testing out gear and making plans for the rest of our trip. More updates to come!

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View of Summit Camp at bedtime

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I admit, I can be a little nerdy at times. And, in light of my current alma mater, let us conjure Dr. Suess’s imagining of the word [If I Ran the Zoo].

This being said, my Alaska trip became a cornucopia of chance encounters and coincidental run-ins, from people who live in Boston to people I’ve worked with on Polar ice sheets! While I would like to write about all of them, I’ve whittled the “run-in” list to three: Denali National Park, Julia Gourley, and Dr. Carl Benson.

Perhaps its fitting to mention Denali National Park first. It wasn’t until after I was asked to present a poster at the following week’s Week of the Arctic conference that I even thought to visit this majestic park. First established in February 1917 (as Mt. McKinley National Park), Denali NP now sits at 7,329.2 sq. miles, with an additional 2,089.9 sq. miles “buffer” in its preserve. For comparison, New Hampshire (9,279sq. miles) is slightly smaller than the whole of the park and preserve. Denali, or “The High One”, is the Athabaskan name for the mountain that serves as “the roof of the continent”*. My visit was short (day trip aboard a shuttle bus to Eielson Visitor Center), but it was punctuated by numerous animal sightings and my good friend (and shuttle driver), Dawn, that I met while working in Antarctica. I hope to re-visit this marvelous area sometime soon!

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Mother grizzly with her two springer cubs.

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Coyote walking the road to Eielson Visitor Center.

The Wednesday poster presentation was actually part of a general invitation to participate in the Institute of the North‘s Week of the Arctic. Although I did not have time to spend all week in Anchorage, I was able to participate in Tuesday’s session (Arctic Council Strategic Planning and Luncheon) where Senior Arctic Official Julia Gourley (State Department) was a speaker and guest. Her role is to help lead US foreign policy development in the Arctic, and it was fascinating to hear her explain the structure of the Arctic Council (high-level diplomatic forum for international cooperation in the Arctic with 8 member states and 6 permanent participants), illuminate some of the key issues currently facing the Arctic, and engage with the conference participants. I only got a chance to chat with her for about 10 minutes, but I invited her to come to Dartmouth and speak with our IGERT folks … let’s hope her schedule allows!

Perhaps the biggest meeting of the trip, in my estimation, was my evening spent with Dr. Carl Benson (and his wife, Ruth). For those keeping score, Carl planned and led a series of traverses (1952-55) that led to his oft-read 1962 CRREL report that, among other things, defined the concept of glacier facies. Indeed, his traverses were the basis for the 2011 Greenland Inland Traverse that Thomas and I undertook last spring. What fun that was! The evening was a mix of tales of derring-do and nostalgia, from train platforms in Evanston, IL, to the great, flat white of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Perhaps most fortunately, Carl delved into some of the glaciological questions that he’s still thinking about … a treasure trove indeed! With luck, I’ll be able to incorporate some of his curiosity into my still-developing thesis! Thanks for a wonderful night, Carl and Ruth!

And thanks, IGERT, for a wonderfully opportunistic Alaskan trip!

Carl Benson and his report
A picture with a legend! Photo courtesy R. Benson.

* Information from http://www.nps.gov/akso/parkwise/students/parkfacts/DENA_FastFacts.htm

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This is a story about a very fun ride in an airplane.

On our flight from Kangerlussuaq to Summit, two very fortunate IGERT students (Steph and I) got the opportunity to sit on the flight deck of the LC-130 with the pilots. We had beautiful views of the landscape around Kangerlussuaq, the ice sheet margin, the crevassed zone, many supraglacial lakes, and ultimately hugely expansive white, flat ice. We also got to see the pilots in action and watch them take off, operate the controls during the flight, and land. Here are some photos from the flight of a lifetime:

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The flight deck of the LC-130. Best seats on the plane!

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Beautiful view of the ice sheet margin east of Kangerlussuaq.

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Cool folded ice layers near the ice sheet margin.

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Bright blue supra-glacial lakes near the ice sheet margin.

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Just a quick note to say that IGERT cohort 3 has safely arrived in Greenland! We got here yesterday evening, and are about to begin our adventures today. Here’s a quick recap of our trip north:

We arose around 4:00AM yesterday morning in order to catch a 5:00AM shuttle from our hotel to the New York Air National Guard base in Scotia. After waiting around at the base for a few hours, we finally boarded the LC-130 plane around 8:30AM.

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Boarding the LC-130. Note the cool colored logo: a dragon at the north pole!

The LC-130s to Greenland are not known for their comfort, and this flight was no exception. The aircraft is very loud, and all passengers have to wear ear protection for the entire flight. It’s also cold, so most opt to wear down jackets and boots. Lastly, and most importantly, it’s quite cozy! The tail of the plane is filled with cargo, and passengers sit on webbing seats in the front. Alas, the flight lasts about six hours.

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Cozy accomodations on the flight to Kangerlussuaq.

The best part of the flight was, of course, stopping in Goose Bay, Labrador. Most flights from Scotia to Kangerlussuaq have to stop to refuel, and we were lucky enough to be on one of these flights. What could make refueling so exciting?? The ice cream, of course! We were happily greeted in Goose Bay by assorted ice cream sandwiches and coffee, and all enjoyed the refueling stop immensely.
The sky was mostly overcast while we flew over Canada and over water, but cleared up as soon as we got to Greenland’s coast, and we were treated to spectacular views as we flew inland to Kangerlussuaq. Most of the scientists on the flight huddled around the two windows in the tail, pointing and yelling over the roar of the engines.

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Beautiful views of the landscape west of Kangerlussuaq. Note the awesome glacial geology features!! I almost wept with joy when I saw the partially eroded looping end moraine at the terminus of the glacier on the right side of this photo.

Upon arrival in Kangerlussuaq we were greeted with hot dinner, hot showers, and numerous other scientists from around the world. All in all, a great trip northward!

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