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Petermann Glacier visit 2011

From Byrd Polar Research Center - Research Wiki

This article begins at Petermann_Glacier_before-after-photos_2010-2011

This page provides more detail regarding the field experience and accomplishments.

Arduous Search for Equipment on Ice and other Difficulties

An astonishing fact from this field work, to conserve critically limited helicopter fuel, Alun walked a total of 135 km during the numerous ground stops. Circling in a helicopter searching for equipment on a glacier burns too much available fuel. Alun therefore did much to extend what the mission accomplished by landing and walking in the vicinity of where the equipment was last known and where glacier flow had taken it. The pilot often rested while Alun hunted for equipment placed on the glacier 2 years earlier.

Alun Hubbard:"Petermish was a success but it was hard-won and pretty stressful for both of us. We were severely limited by time, fuel and were very isolated. There is no rescue up in the far north of Greenland - no backup; one screw up with the flying, a mechanical or the logistics and we'd have been up merde creek. At one point we were siphoning the last drops of fuel out of jerry cans into the EC120 to get us back to our depot. The whole thing was expected to take less than 30 hrs but, in fact, the mission took treble this time as equipment masts had fallen and were hard to locate due to the enhanced melt since installation in 2009. Whilst Tore - the pilot - slept to replenish his flight duty hours - I'd be out on foot searching for fallen equipment. With 24 hour sunlight - you can go non-stop for days but I was pretty baked by the end."

The GPS masts were installed on scaffold pipes 5 m into the ice. Larger than expected ice melt rates (~5 m in 2 years) led to some of the GPS masts melting out by the time of the 2011 visit.

GPS measurements

Accomplishments for the field work, in terms of GPS:

- Recovery and redeployment of high precision (Trimble NetRS or 5700) 'geodetic' GPS stations. Four of six of these sites were located, data downloaded, and re-deployed with new batteries.

- Recovery of data from the Trimble NetRS GPS base station. Stored on site, here on land, were data records from 3 telemetric rover GPS, two of three which had failed.

- Failed to locate the 3 masts that held the (small) stand-alone single-frequency GPS from Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Photographic Accomplishments

- see Petermann_Glacier_before-after-photos_2010-2011

Meteorological Data

- Recovery of temperature, precipitation rate, and humidity record from the cliff 900 m above sea level at the position of 2 of the time lapse cameras.

Data Processing

- GPS data are being processed by Sam Doyle & Hilmar Gudmundsson.

- before after photo pairs are being further developed by Jason Box.


return to Petermann_Glacier_before-after-photos_2010-2011


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