Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sport meets science

10/05 camp 21
Distance today: 72 km
Total distance: 1524 km
Position: 74.246 N 49.829 W, alt 2310 m
Hours kited: 5h

We hoped to be there already the day before yesterday, but with the fading wind, we had to stop a little more than 20 km early. And yesterday we did not move at all - with mixed feelings. Today we have finally reached and passed the automatic weather station NASA-U.

And even though this is just pole a few meters high in the middle of nowhere, we were excited as kids in a candy store. The thing looks a little like a christmas tree made of aluminum profiles, decorated with scientific instruments and crowned by a solar panel and an antenna.

There are wind, temperature, humidity, snow height and albedo measurements as far as we could recognize.
We had a closer look at the "Young" wind vane measuring wind speed and direction. It was pointing along the same direction as the arm holding what we believe is the albedo measurement. In order to avoid measuring its own shadow this arm is likely a good implementation of geographic south. This observation just confirmed once more what determined our day: almost tailwind. The little propeller was spinning merrily, but we would have preferred it a little more in a hurry.

There are many cables from the instruments converging in a box labelled "Campbell Scientific". They certainly were once nicely rolled up, but now after braving the winter storms they looked a little like the "Spaghetti" found behind most office PCs. Its certainly a tough place for a weather station.
Our expedition has no scientific aim or mission, but during the preparation of the project we have benefitted enormously from the public scientific data on the Greenland Icecap. And while out here, we experience the instantaneous and local parameters, whose averages and statistics are in the focus of climate research. There are actually many of these stations scattered on the icecap, and we had a close look at the data gathered by these instruments for the preparation of this trip. This may explain part of the excitement when we finally had the chance to see the real thing.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Koni Steffen and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) for access to this exceptional resource, when we prepared our first trip in 2008 and once more for this project. It was a pleasure to work with this data. I am also grateful to Koni for providing the Ekholm Digital Elevation Model which is at the base of the maps on which Thomas Roth kindly reports our daily progression. Danke Thomas!

Many thanks to Thomas Mote who helped with surface melt data, in order to get an idea about surface conditions we might encounter at later stages along our planned itinerary.
Hello to Marc our meterologic router, who yesterday tried to figure out what the weather stations are going to measure tomorrow.

Coucou to Aurelie who would have liked us to take a good number of "Schott" flasks to collect some more or less fresh air from the icecap. Regards to Francois (no meteorites so far) and Marion (le passage de sastrugies ne doit pas etre tres agreable en carriole...).
In view of the conditions, we were finally quite satisfied with 72 laborious kilometers on the Speed 3 19 m2, the last 15 km with lines of 69 meters.


  1. You have written on the topic with your views really nicely. Can you give me some ideas on cabled weather stations? Actually I don't know much of its usage.

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