We have been at our remote camp (“C-14 camp”) for slightly over a week now , and our season is progressing well. The weather has been kind to us, with many cold nights around -35˚C, but no high winds. The Summit crew have done a fantastic job of setting up the site for us, and the camp and worksite were ready for us to move in.
This is the last field season of our Greenland Summit project. The overall goal of the project is to understand how cosmic rays interact with ice and firn (the compacted snow layer at the top of an ice sheet) to produce carbon-14. This season we are also collecting an ice core for analyses of carbon monoxide concentration and stable isotopes, to improve our understanding of how the atmosphere before the Industrial Revolution compares to that of today.
With an experienced put-in team (Mike, Don, Dean, Phil, Ben, Jochen and myself) and overall good weather, set up proceeded quickly. Phil and I worked on the large ice melter system and associated instruments.
With help from Ben and Jochen on the first day, we were able to assemble the entire system and successfully pass the crucial vacuum leak test in just 3 days. We have now completed the first melt-extraction, where we took firn cores from between 30 and 40 m depth and melted them under vacuum to extract any trapped carbon-14 that the cosmic rays have produced. We have also started on a series of control experiments (“blank tests”) which will tell us how much carbon-14 is added to the samples from our apparatus.
A brand-new analytical system, “the sublimator” is making its first appearance in the field this season.
This system can sublimate ice to extract carbon dioxide for analyses of carbon-14 – something that the large melter is not capable of. Ben has worked very hard to build and test this system in the months leading up to our field campaign. Ben and Jochen have assembled the sublimator and have successfully completed an initial round of tests.
Our fearless and incredibly competent camp manager, Dean, has done a great job of running camp and keeping us well-fed for the hard work and cold weather.
Four out of seven team members (Mike, Don, Phil, Dean) are now at our second sampling location, known as PLACE camp, 36 km away from C-14 camp. PLACE camp is the chosen location of our carbon monoxide ice core. Our ice drillers Mike and Don have by now assembled our drill (the BID, which stands for Blue Ice Drill), drilled 40 m of core at C-14 camp, disassembled the drill completely, moved it to PLACE camp, re-assembled it, and drilled over 40 more meters of core.
To conclude, work has been progressing well, the team is in high spirits and we look forward to the arrival of the rest of our team at Summit