Greenland Snow Studies

What Are They Doing?

This research project on the Greenland ice cap examined the air trapped in firn (old snow that has recrystallized into a more dense substance through the weight of the overlying snowpack) for clues to past climates. The unique characteristics of firn allow the sampling of large quantities of pre-industrial air to explore anthropogenic effects on the atmosphere. While in the field, the team conducted a variety of snow measurements; post-field analysis of the data enabled a better understanding of past climates and the impact of human activity on the Earth's atmosphere.

Where Are They?

The team traveled to Summit Station, located at the peak of the Greenland ice cap atop 3200 m of ice. Summit is a scientific research station sponsored by the National Science Foundation that supports a diversity of scientific research, including year-round measurements of air-snow interactions that provide crucial knowledge for interpreting data from deep ice cores drilled both at Summit and elsewhere. Learn more about Summit at the Summit Station website

Expedition Map


After being at Summit on top of the ice sheet in Greenland where snow accumulates at a rate of 60-65 cm per year, I still wanted to see the edge of the ice sheet. The Russell Glacier is about 17 km from Kangerlussuaq. Some people hike the stretch, some ride bikes, but a few of us signed up with a tour bus and went out for the afternoon. The 15-passenger van was hiked up and had 4-wheel drive…thank heavens. The road was an adventure by itself and when we hit the glacial till, I thought we would sink down and get stuck. But our driver and guide had traveled this road many times and did an...
We have a few days in Kangerlussuaq to explore and decided to hike all day around the Lake Ferguson area. Most of the team that worked with the ice cores went trekking for the day. The layers of schist with the garnets were a goal of the hike. But along the way was incredible evidence of glaciology from the numerous ponds and lakes to the smoothed surface of the metamorphic rocks showing the striations etched into the rock as the former ice scoured the valley. To me, every rock was a keeper! Goodness, it was hard not to bring home large samples. So, I took pictures instead. notice...
It has been a quick three weeks and now it is time to get ready to leave here.  The Hercules LC130 will be here tomorrow to pick up the science cargo, personal gear and those who are leaving camp.  Others will be coming to take our place.  packing up the drill Today was a packing up and moving day.  At the core drilling and processing site there was the need to bring back equipment and cores, take down the temporary wind breaks, clean out the tents, and dig out the tents from accumulated drifted snow. Then another group came out to help move the three tents for the next group that is...
I have been taking my GPS where ever I go and Summit is no exception. I really do like to see where I am, especially when flying on airplanes. Only once did I have a flight within the US where I could access a GPS unit in the seat in front of me and that was awesome. So I just carry my own GPS with me. I am going to give waypoints for Summit camp buildings and pictures of those structures in this journal for anyone who would like to use them. Some structures are temporary and I have not included them. Assume that the coordinates are given as lat/long in decimal degrees. My tent: 72....
I have been dressing in multiple layers from head to toe to keep warm. But on Saturday, June 2, the wind was low (not enough to turn the windmill), the sky was almost cloudless, and air pressure was rising. Our temperature reached 14F...a heat wave! Midmorning I went to my tent to shed clothing and wore jeans with one layer of long underwear and even a t-shirt! Now, if I was at home in Idaho, 14F wouldn't seem like a heat wave. It was an absolutely gorgeous day in Greenland. And with the high pressure, I found myself walking without heaving breathing. Then to add another component,...

Expedition Resources

Project Information

13 May 2007 to 9 June 2007
Location: Summit, Greenland
Project Funded Title: Snow Structure and Past Climates at Summit, Greenland

Meet the Team

Jo Dodds's picture
O’Leary Junior High School
Twin Falls, ID
United States

Jo Dodds has taught earth science at O'Leary Junior High School, Twin Falls, Idaho, for the past 22 years. Ms. Dodds loves teaching about our dynamic Earth, especially volcanism, seismology, plate tectonics, the environment, and life in extreme environments. Some of her other interests includes birding, cross-country skiing, and traveling, especially to areas of active volcanoes and glaciers.

Mary Albert's picture
Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory
Hanover, NH
United States

Mary Albert is a senior research engineer at the U.S. Army ERDC Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab in Hanover, New Hampshire and a Professor at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. Dr. Albert's research interests include snow physics, heat transfer, and snow-air interactions on the Greenland Ice Shelf. Dr. Albert hopes that this PolarTREC experience will motivate students for careers in science, math, and engineering.