Travelling to the drill site – University of Copenhagen

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Centre for Ice and Climate > Research > Drilling and analysing ice cores > Field work > Travelling to the dril...

Travelling to the drill site

Travelling to the drill site

When going on a drilling expedition, the first stop is Kangerlussuaq (Danish name: Søndre Strømfjord) in the south western part of Greenland. Kangerlussuaq has long been a logistical focal point for scientific expeditions, because it can be reached by direct flight from Copenhagen and has the best airport and some of the best weather conditions in Greenland. In the small town of Kangerlussuaq, the NEEM project has a large warehouse filled with equipment for living and working for months at a time on the ice. Everything from tent pegs and sleeping bags to skidoos and tracked vehicles is stored here. This is also where tonnes of food for the expedition are received and repacked in large crates. When everything is packed and the field team is ready, the journey to the ice sheet can begin.

People and cargo are transported in large LC-130 Hercules airplanes operated by the 109th division of the New York Air Guard. On the ice sheet the planes have to land directly on the ice. A so-called skiway is prepared by the camp crew by driving a heavy vehicle back and forth to compress the snow and remove bumps and snowdrifts and is marked with flags mounted on bamboo poles. The LC-130 lands on this simple skiway on its specially-designed skis. After typically 1-2 hours of ground time, the plane leaves again with retro cargo (e.g. ice cores) and those of the camp crew members that are going home. Because the drill sites are most often located at high altitude on the ice sheet, the air is thin and it can be difficult for the plane to get airborne. Often the pilot has to fire assisting take off rockets that are mounted 4 on each side of the plane to get the plane off the ice. There are typically 2-3 weeks between the flights to the drill site.

Kangerlussuaq

Most field operations in Greenland are coordinated from Kangerlussuaq on the west coast.

Cargo off-load

Cargo off-load slegde