Greenland Welcomes Icepod and the 2013 Science Season

by | 4.20.2013 at 9:27pm
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Greenland’s west coast is lined with ice-topped mountains reaching up to touch the clouds. (photo M. Turrin)

Greenland’s west coast is lined with ice-topped mountains reaching up to touch the clouds. (photo M. Turrin)

The New York Air National Guard runs a 5:00 AM 'shuttle' to collect science teams and their baggage for the Greenland Science Season.

The New York Air National Guard runs a 5:00 AM ‘shuttle’ to collect science teams and their baggage for the Greenland Science Season. (photo M. Turrin)

Icepod joined the first large wave of science teams headed to Greenland via the NYANG LC130 transport system. Four LC130 aircraft were packed to bursting with pallets of equipment, supplies and science teams anxious to get to their designated research locations. Planes one and three were designated for cargo load, plane two would carry the bulk of the science personnel, including half the Icepod team, and plane four would carry Icepod with its skeletal engineering support team. 5:00 a.m. pick-ups for the science members set up the planes for staggered departures every 30 minutes starting at 8:00 a.m. With a flight time of seven hours from Schenectady NY to Kangerlussuaq Greenland, an early departure facilitates moving through customs and getting settled with the science support staff that awaits the group in Greenland.

LC130 Line Up prepares to head to Greenland with the IcePod visible in the front of the line. (Photo R. Bell)

LC130 line up in preparation to head to Greenland with the IcePod visible at the front of the line. (Photo R. Bell)

All the aircraft were packed from end to end with either cargo or personnel. While we waited for the pallets of cargo to be loaded onto the planes the science teams’ discussion focused on how Greenland’s ice will be dissected and examined in the upcoming season. One group will look at ice surface processes using ground penetrating radar and shallow ice cores starting at the Dye 2 location, another will drop into the high elevation Summit camp to start an overland traverse examining the ice (although we learned that nighttime temperatures are running at -50 degrees C, a bit too low currently for set up). A third group will examine the firn layer (that section in the ice that is just starting to compress) over Jakonbshavn glacier, and the Icepod team will be doing their first set of instrument test flights in polar conditions looking at the ice from the bed up to the ice surface.

Approaching Goose Bay to refuel. (Photo M. Turrin)

Approaching Goose Bay to refuel. (Photo M. Turrin)

The science personnel were finally loaded into Plane two, which had been divided across the middle of the main cabin, to accommodate cargo aft and science teams foreward packed knee to knee in two sets of facing rows.  With this heavy load the aircraft would need to stop to refuel in Goose Bay, in Labrador, Newfoundland, Canada. Goose Bay Air Base, affectionately known by many as “The Goose”, was once home to Strategic Air Command’s 95th Strategic Wing. The ice cream served to the visitors of the airfield has become part of the travel lore of the teams en route to Greenland, so by the time the wheels touched down, everyone’s thoughts had moved from polar ice to ice cream. Two baskets full of assorted Good Humor truck style ice cream were quickly dispensed and we were back up in the air and underway for the last half of the journey.

 

 

Goose Bay Air Base provides a refueling and emergency stopping location for aircraft, in fact a United aircraft was undergoing emergency repairs when we stopped through. (image from http://www.strategic-air-command.com/bases/Goose_Bay_AFB.htm)

Goose Bay Air Base provides a refueling and emergency stopping location for aircraft, in fact a United aircraft was undergoing emergency repairs when we stopped through. (image from http://www.strategic-air-command.com/bases/Goose_Bay_AFB.htm)

When the west coast of Greenland came into view the sun was just peaking through the clouds lying low along the tops of the coastal mountains. The shadowy ridgeline just visible through the mist was a welcome sight after seven hours of flight.  Tomorrow will be a day of setting up base stations and reviewing some of the transit data, then the Icepod project will launch into its first set of Greenland test flights.

The west coast Greenland mountains tip through the clouds as the sun breaks along the ridgeline. (Photo M. Turrin)

The west coast Greenland mountains tip through the clouds as the sun breaks along the ridgeline. (Photo M. Turrin)

For more information on the IcePod project: http:www.ldeo.columbia.edu/icepod

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