Greenland

Research

Click on the following year to jump to the Greenland field work projects for that year.

2016
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007

2016

The CReSIS UAV team deployed to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland from March 8th to April 30th 2016 with the goal of collecting fine-resolution data over a rough-surface glacier to demonstrate the scientific relevance of radar-equipped UASs for sounding the most challenging glaciers in Greenland. The UAV team in Kangerlussuaq had more than 10 successful training flights of the DG808 UAS surrogate from the frozen lakebed and several successful flights of the G1XD platform. The former was an important test for the new pilot and crew, since for several members of the team this was their first polar field experience. Also, since the lake is surrounded by mountains and the DG808 has same wingspan and fuselage lengths as the G1X, assessment of the DG808 aircraft dynamic effects at takeoff and landing allows us to evaluate and reduce risk before committing the G1XB/C to flights. The field team completed a successful data collection using the 35-MHz radar on April 13, 2016. The initial results show radar-sounded ice on the lines flown.

2014

Greenland, Spring 2014: NASA OIB Mission using P-3 Aircraft

Proposed flight lines for 2014 Spring OIB deployment. (Source: Spring 2014 IceBridge P-3 Flight Plans, 10 March 2014 Draft, compiled by John Sonntag, NASA)

Figure 1: Proposed flight lines for 2014 Spring OIB deployment.

From March 10 to May 23, 2014, CReSIS personnel from KU and IU participated in NASA’s Operation IceBridge (OIB) spring campaign over land ice on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Figure 1 shows the proposed flight lines for 53 land ice missions and 19 sea ice missions for this deployment.  CReSIS’ MCoRDS/I Depth Sounder/Imager, Accumulation Radar, Ku-band Radar, and Snow Radar as well as IU’s Forward Observer data management system were installed on the NASA P-3 aircraft. On March 10, four CReSIS personnel flew on the NASA P-3 from WFF to Thule Air Base in Greenland. From March 10 to April 4, the team conducted airborne radar surveys from the NASA P-3 aircraft while based out of Thule and out of Fairbanks, Alaska. On April 4, the team transited on the NASA P-3 from Thule to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland, and conducted survey flights from this location until April 25. On April 25, the team transited on the NASA P-3 from Kangerlussuaq to Thule. The team conducted survey flights from Thule until May 23, when the team transited back to WFF on the P- 3 aircraft. On May 24-26, the team removed the equipment from the NASA P-3 and packed it for the return shipment to KU and IU.

2013

Dartmouth field team member, Alden Adolph, conducting a radar survey at Summit Camp in Greenland with the CReSIS surface-based Snow Radar System. (Photo courtesy of Allison Morlock from Dartmouth). Source: https://dartmouthigert.wordpress.com/category/igert-fellows/alden- adolph/page/7/, post by Alden Adolph on June 27, 2013)

Figure 1: Radar survey

In summer 2013, CReSIS provided the surface-based Snow Radar System and antenna mounting structure to Dr. Mary R. Albert from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth for use by her field team during their deployment to Greenland in June-July 2013. CReSIS also provided computing equipment and quick-look software scripts written by CReSIS for the team to use in the field to assess data quality and to produce first-order results. The equipment was used to collect surface- based radar survey data for the purpose of investigating the impacts of melt in the dry snow zone in the APEX area of Summit Camp in Greenland, in conjunction with Dr. Albert’s NSF-funded research. Equipment traveled on the ANG 109th aircraft from the United States to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland on May 28, 2013 and then from Kangerlussuaq to Summit Camp around June 4. The radar system components were shipped in a racked configuration inside a hardigg container. Once at Summit Camp, the hardigg container was strapped to a sled; the antennas were attached to the mounting structure and then mounted to the sled; and the sled was towed by a snowmobile (see Figure 1). The surface-based Snow Radar System was used at Summit Camp until late June, and then it returned on the ANG 109th aircraft to the United States by late July 2013.

Meridian
Figure 2: Science flight trajectories for Greenland 2013.

In the spring of 2013, we deployed to survey land and sea ice over Greenland, Canada and the Arctic sea. From March 18 to May 2, 2013 the MCoRDS/I, Snow Radar, Ku-Band Radar, and Accumulation Radar were flown on the NASA P-3 for flights based out of Thule and Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, and out of Fairbanks, Alaska, to survey Greenlandic and Canadian land ice and Arctic sea ice.The total data collected over the current project period was approximately 30.74 TB. Figure 2 shows the flight lines for the 2013 Greenland OIB mission.

 

2012

NEEM/NEGIS mission to Greenland with the University of Kansas and Pennsylvania State University: From June 4 to July 16 CReSIS participated in an NSF-funded research mission at the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling (NEEM) Camp and the North East Greenland Ice Stream (NEGIS) site. The project was facilitated for CReSIS thanks to our long-standing collaboration with the camp sponsor, the University of Copenhagen and Prof. Dorthe Dahl-Jensen. The CReSIS team collected seismic measurements and ground-based radar measurements at NEEM which other researchers at the site use to calibrate observations from ice cores. CReSIS also worked with Leo Peters from Pennsylvania State University (PSU) who led the team. He was joined by Jose Velez Gonzalez from the University of Kansas (KU), Knut Christiansen of St. Olaf College, and Kiya Wilson and Atsushiro Muto of PSU. The fieldwork at the NEGIS site consisted of active seismic and radar data acquisition along the upper reaches of the ice stream to capture any subglacial influences on where streaming ice conditions persist, and to image any englacial variability present between the ice stream and surrounding ice sheet. The team spent about a week at the NEEM Camp and another month at NEGIS.

Operation IceBridge Airborne Radar Surveys with NASA P-3: From March 12 and May 25, 2012, CReSIS participated in NASA’s Operation IceBridge (OIB) spring campaign over the Arctic Ocean and the Greenland Ice Sheet. CReSIS supports the OIB program by deploying radar instrumentation and personnel on the NASA P-3 research aircraft to monitor land ice and sea ice in the Arctic cryosphere. Prior to deployment, CReSIS personnel were involved with the antenna installation, radar installation, and test flights at Wallops Flight Facility (WFF), Wallops Island, VA in February and early March. Then on March 12, CReSIS personnel flew on the P-3 from WFF to Thule Air Base in Greenland. On April 4, the OIB team transited on the P-3 from Thule to Kangerlussuaq, where they were based until May 2, when they transited back to Thule. On May 25, the OIB team flew on the P-3 from Thule in Greenland back to WFF in Virginia. The team collected data during approximately 325 science flight hours on the P-3 over sea ice and land ice while based from Thule and Kangerlussuaq in Greenland.
 

2011

OIBOperation IceBridge Airborne Radar Surveys with NASA P-3: From March 14 to May 19, 2011, CReSIS personnel participated in the NASA Operation IceBridge (OIB) mission in Greenland. The team conducted airborne radar surveys from the NASA P-3 aircraft while based first out of Thule (March 14-31), then Kangerlussuaq (April 1-23), and ended in Thule (April 24 to May 19). CReSIS radars included the MCoRDS/I depth sounder/imager, Accumulation radar, Ku-band radar, and Snow radar. CReSIS and OIB airborne field activities have enabled the collection of high-altitude sounding data over Greenland as shown here with this map and high-altitude sounding data graphic from the Arctic surveys.

Airborne Radar Surveys with NSF Twin Otter: From March 21 to May 6, 2011, two CReSIS graduate research students, one faculty member and one staff member from CReSIS partner institution, Indiana University (IU), conducted airborne radar surveys in Greenland as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) mission. A Twin Otter aircraft was deployed and operated by Kenn Borek Air Ltd for NSF. CReSIS installed the Multi-channel Coherent Radar Depth Sounder ice-penetrating radar (MCoRDS/I), the Accumulation radar, and the Ku-band altimeter radar on the aircraft to perform fine-scale radar sounding, internal layers mapping, and imaging of Greenland’s southern outlet glaciers. The team flew a total of 93.7 out of 100 possible flight hours. For the first set of flight surveys, from March 23 to April 4, the CReSIS team was based at Ilulissat. From here they completed four missions over the Jakobshavn Glacier. In the next stage of the mission, from April 5 to April 27, the CReSIS team operated out of Kulusuk and completed three missions over the Helheim Glacier and three missions over the southeastern glaciers. From April 28 to May 3, the team was based in Nuuk and completed three missions over glaciers in that vicinity. The team then returned to Kangerlussuaq to remove equipment from the Twin Otter before returning to the United States on May 6 on an Air National Guard 109th flight. Approximately 15 terabytes of data were collected: 11.3 terabytes of MCoRDS data, 1.0 terabyte of Accumulation radar data, and 1.6 terabytes of Ku-band radar data.

Otter FlightLines

Graphic showing flight lines flown by Twin Otter in 2011 over Jakobshavn outside of Ilulissat (upper left), over the Nuuk glaciers near Nuuk (lower left), and over Helheim and the southeastern glaciers near Kulusuk (lower right). Under: Meridian in flight at NEEM in Greenland, Auguest 2, 2011

Meridian

NSF Unmanned Aerial System Mission to NEEM Research Station: From July 17 to August 12, 2011, seven CReSIS personnel deployed to the NEEM Research Station in Greenland to conduct flight testing using two UAS’s—the Meridian UAS and the smaller-scale Yak-54 UAS—and to conduct tests with the depth sounder radar on board the Meridian. The objective of this campaign was to increase the reliability and functionality of the aircraft and flight control system through extensive flight testing as well as to demonstrate the platform’s science capability through testing of the onboard depth sounder radar.

2010

Operation Ice Bridge: CReSIS continued its involvement with NASA’S Operation IceBridge survey of the Arctic cryosphere from March 22nd to May 28th, 2010. KU faculty Fernando Rodriguez-Morales and Carl Leuscshen and KU graduate students Ben Panzer, Cameron Lewis, Reid Crowe, and Kyle Byers deployed to Greenland to operate radars aboard DC-8 and P3 aircraft. Throughout 200 hours of flight time, the total 70-person crew took repeated measurements of surface elevation, bedrock topography and snow thickness for land-terminating and outlet glaciers and Arctic sea ice. This wide-sweeping deployment constituted the largest airborne survey of Arctic ice ever conducted.

Based out of Thule Air Force Base from March 22nd and April 25, the DC-8 flights operated high-altitude flights up to 2,500 feet along ICESat-I track lines above coastal regions of Greenland and sea ice concentrations throughout the Arctic. CReSIS ran snow accumulation radar, KU-band radar, and the Multi-Channel Coherant Depth Sounder (MCoRDS) with five bowtie antennas. The deployment totalled 7 sea ice flights and 13 ice-sheet flights, with four unique flights at varying altitudes over the Northwest Passage and the North Pole. the DC-8 returned to Wallops Flight Center on April 25.

The DC-8 systems were then transferred onto P3 aircraft. CReSIS also installed a snow radar and an antenna switching system for the MCoRDS. They increased the number of MCoRDS antennas to 15. The P3 deployed to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland until May 28th. Flying at altitudes below 1,500 feet, the flights surveyed land-based ice on outlet glaciers throughout Greenland. The MCoRDS system ran with fifteen bowtie antennas. To accommodate for the increased array, CReSIS also operated an antenna switching system on the P3 to alternate between receiving signals from antennas on the inside and the outside of the aircraft’s wings. The team also traded flat elliptical dipole antennas in place of the vivaldi antennas previously used for the snow accumulation radar.

Over 80 TB of raw data was collected in the two deployments. NASA intends to complete annual flights of the region until ICESat-II launches in 2015

2009

Greenland Aerial Survey Campaign. Deployment to Greenland was targeted for late March to begin aerial surveys before the onset of significant melt. Three KU team members, Dr. Fernando Rodriguez-Morales, Dr. Chris Allen, and Mr. Chris Gifford (CReSIS/KU GRA) supported the installation effort. Flights commenced on March 31. Surveys of three fast-flowing glaciers (Jakobshavn, Kangerdlugssuaq, and Helheim), a search grid over a 1942 United States Coast Guard crash site, and work for the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources and University of Copenhagen on Godthåbsfjorden were completed.

Meridian
The Godthabsfjorden survey grid.

Approximately 120 Twin Otter flight hours were expended in acquiring ~7.3 TB of raw data and flying 6,433 survey line-kilometers. Instrumentation for these surveys included the depth sounder, accumulation radar, prototype Lidar system, and new DGPS/INU package. A prototype Ku-band altimeter was installed after the team returned to Kangerlussuaq and used for the Godthåbsfjorden mission.
The team concluded survey operations from Ilulissat on April 5 and relocated to Kulusuk on April 6 and 7 for surveys of Kangerdlugssuaq and Helheim.

Helheim (Greenland) TLS Survey. Further understanding of rapid flux changes on Helheim and other outlet glaciers in Greenland has been hampered by the lack of high-resolution data sets. Recent fieldwork by a three-person team, led by Dr. Leigh Stearns (KU), demonstrated that Terrestrial LiDAR Scanning (TLS) is capable of providing detailed and highly accurate three-dimensional surface feature data. Large (2-5 km) swaths can be rapidly imaged in very short timeframes (on the order of a few minutes) and scans repeated to quantify horizontal and vertical displacements on short time scales.

Meridian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Satellite image of Helheim acquired on June 22, 2008 (ice flow is from left to right). The black profile lines show NASA's airborne laser altimeter flightlines, from early May 2009. The green and yellow lines (marked by “1” and “2”) show areas scanned using the TLS in late May 2009. The red line is the approximate calving location identified during this time period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seismic Instrument Installation – Greenland. A PSU-led field team returned from Greenland on June 6 after emplacing seismic and GPS instrumentation near supraglacial lakes in the vicinity of the Jakobshavn Isbræ. Previous studies by glaciologists Dr. Ian Joughin (UWashington) and Dr. Sarah Das (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) identified the primary drainage mechanism of these supraglacial lakes as water-driven fracture propagation evolving into discrete moulin flow. These field instruments are intended to monitor activities associated with a supraglacial lake drainage event, which should offer insight into dynamics governing Jakobshavn’s accelerated ice flow and the net summer speedup of the Greenland Ice Sheet’s western margin.

Meridian

To sufficiently record drainage activity in the area, the team installed four stations proximal to the supraglacial lake. Each station consisted of a broadband seismometer, a high-frequency 3-component geophone, and a differential GPS instrument. The team also deployed the new generation of GPS, active and passive seismic instrument, called the “geoPebble,” which was configured for continuous passive seismic data acquisition.

Meridian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(above) Don Voight (left) and Randy Justin (right) near Jakobshavn, Greenland. (left) Instrument locations (dots in satellite photograph) near supraglacial lakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three stations were installed around the lake in a roughly triangular arrangement and as dictated by extensive crevassing in the area. A fourth station was installed approximately 20 kilometers from the lake to serve as a seismic and differential GPS local base station.

2008

Ilulissat/Jakobshavn Aerial Radar Surveys.  A combined CReSIS and NASA team deployed to Ilulissat, Greenland, in June 2008. Prior to deployment, Dr. Fernando Rodriguez-Morales, Dr. Sarah Seguin, Dr. Carl Leuschen, and Mr. Cameron Lewis (GRA) supported MCRDS installation on board a newly configured Kenn Borek Air Limited (KBAL) Twin Otter in Calgary, Alberta. Installation included NASA Airborne Topographic Mapping (ATM) components and was supported by NASA engineers.

OIB Mr. Jeaime Powell (ECSU) and Dr. Eric Akers (ECSU), from the PolarGRID project joined CReSIS and NASA team members for an extended survey effort of the Jakobshavn Isbræ. The CReSIS surveys began on June 26 and were completed on July 22. 88.9 Twin Otter hours were flown to collect 9.0 Terabytes of data along more than 19,000 air kilometers of survey grid. Preliminary analysis indicated that, despite severe melt conditions, radar was able to identify the channel.

NEEM.  A three-person CReSIS/PolarGRID team deployed with the 109th Air National Guard to NEEM via Kangerlussuaq in August 2008 to conduct a small, surface survey grid around the NEEM coring site. Dr. Carl Leuschen led the team and was joined by Mr. Dennis Sundermeyer (CReSIS/KU) and Keith Lehigh (PolarGRID/IU). Instrumentation included a MCoRDS-derived InSAR2 radar with a new sled and modified field grid from the PolarGRID project. Objectives included mapping the ice sheet to the bed in order to continue assessing the suitability of the drilling site in obtaining undisturbed Eemian ice.

OIB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEEM bed elevation map (left) and survey grid (August 2008).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to the NEEM-focused survey, the team successfully collected data on “mini-traverses” toward the NGRIP and Camp Century sites, and completed full polarimetric measurements.  For an online diary of activities at the NEEM site from the University of Copenhagen visit http://neem.nbi.ku.dk/field_diaries/field_season_2008/.

GAMBIT.  Test flights of the aero-geophysical instrument developed by the GAMBIT team were accomplished in Greenland between late May and mid June 2008. CReSIS graduate student, Mr. Michael Hughes, deployed in support of these test flights and assisted in modifying data processing code, running the processing code on radar data collected from several test flights, and troubleshooting the radar system.

Hughes helped determine phase delays and transmission line lengths required to obtain those delays in order to achieve “steering” for the 4-element antenna array. The antenna array, steered to a 30-degree off-nadir angle, will allow future SAR mapping in both along-track and cross-track positions simultaneously.

OIB
The Ohio State University team in Greenland (2007).

2007

OSU In Situ Efforts.  A five-person CReSIS team, led by Dr. Ellen Mosley-Thompson and an Ohio State crew deployed from Kangerlussuaq on May 11, 2007 with the following objectives:
to drill an ice core to ~150 meters at Crawford Point and, if possible, a similar core at another site 50 km upslope; the cores provide records of the net annual accumulation (An), the annually resolved proxy-based climate histories for the area, and the firn/ice density and stratigraphy for modeling anticipated CReSIS radar data;
to drill four shallow (~20 m) cores to explore the spatial variability of An, density, stratigraphic features as well as other preserved climate histories;
to test the speedograph tool for high vertical resolution density profiling and, if successful, use the speedograph at a number of sites to characterize the spatial variability of density in roughly the upper 10 meters.
Seven cores, two one-meter pit samples, and six complete speedograph profiles were collected.

PSU Seismics.  A Penn State-led seismic team deployed on May 5, 2007, to a camp at 69º 23’ N, 47º 13’ W and returned from the ice in early June. During this 29-day field effort, the team completed 16 kilometers of seismic line, a 10-km main line, and another 6-km cross line that required 132 shot holes (drilled with the CH2M Hill (formerly VECO) steam drill). Each hole was approximately 10-meters deep and required around 150 grams of explosive charge (PETN).

OIB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penn State seismic team in Greenland (2007).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two of our primary objectives for this effort were an assessment of signal-to-noise levels and identifying processes for obtaining and deploying explosives in Greenland for seismic studies.  Both of these were accomplished.  With assistance from CH2M Hill (formerly VECO Polar Services), a procedure for explosives requisition, permit processing, transport, and storage now exists, and assessment has shown that 10-m deep holes have proven successful in providing high quality seismic data.
NEEM Traverse and Survey.  After weather conditions postponed the expedition from mid-June, Dr. Claude Laird joined an international field team in Greenland in early July for a traverse from NorthGRIP, a previous ice coring site, to a new coring location, called NEEM (North Eem). The team reached the proposed drill site on August 1 and commenced a radar survey over a 10-km by 10-km area.

Further information about the NEEM project is available from the University of Copenhagen at http://neem.ku.dk/ . Additional coverage of this field effort is available in the Lawrence Journal World (Lawrence, Kansas) in their on-line archives at http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/sep/02/. The coverage includes a description of CReSIS overall efforts by the director, Dr. Prasad Gogineni, and a narrated slideshow by Dr. Laird highlighting this field effort.

The team also maintained a blog during their field work.

GISMO.  The Global Ice Sheet Mapping Orbiter (GISMO) concept is a project led by Ohio State and supported by NASA that features a KU-developed, 150/450 MHz GISMO/MCoRDS radar mounted in a P-3B aircraft for aerial survey work. The OSU/NASA/CReSIS team deployed from Wallops Flight Facility in early September 2007 and conducted aerial surveys through September 21. Initial survey lines were flown out of Thule before completing the work from Sondrestrom.

OIB

Primary technical objectives were to acquire data at 150 and 450 MHz, the operating frequencies in the conceptual design, over a variety of glacial regimes.  Further, to collect data with six receiving antennas and two transmitting antennas so as to enable formation of interferometric SAR image pairs with variable baselines, to acquire tomographic data, and to acquire data for multi-aperture beam formation investigations.  All of the experimental configurations where designed to test the effectiveness of different clutter rejection schemes.  The experiments were also designed to characterize surface and volume clutter across different glacial regimes (such as the dry northern interior ice sheet, the seasonally melted central and south ice sheet, and crevassed zones) and to try and estimate total radar attenuation through the ice sheet by incorporating calibration measurements over the ocean.
 
The aircraft was flown at altitudes as high as 6,700 m above sea level and as low as 500 m above the ice sheet surface.  Flight lines were designed to capture surface clutter conditions across outlet glaciers discharging into the ocean, down the length of the floating portion of Peterman and Jakobshavn glaciers, and to cross from the percolation facies into the dry snow zone.  Over flight of NGRIP and of the proposed NEEM deep drilling site was also conducted.  Measurements were also made along a “race-track” where successive ovals of the race track were displaced by 25 m.  These race-track data will be used for radar tomography.

 

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