New ice core drilling in Northeast Greenland to help us prepare for climate change
The East Greenland Ice-Core Project – EastGRIP – is led by the Centre for Ice and Climate at the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute. The project’s objective is to drill a roughly 2550 meter long ice core down to bedrock, directly through the ice sheet and Northeast Greenland Ice Stream.
“We are the first and only ones in the world to drill through an ice stream. Half of Greenland’s loss of ice sheet mass occurs by way of ice streams, which are are like rivers of fast-flowing ice within the ice sheet that slide towards the sea and eventually calve to become icebergs. The prospects are significant, as we expect research results to provide improved forecasts with regards to rising sea levels in the future - an area now subject to great uncertainty,” according to the Niels Bohr Institute’s Dorthe Dahl-Jensen.
Researchers will study the ice core ice’s fluid-like properties by measuring physical properties and performing deformation studies of the ice core to better understand the material characteristics of the ice. The drill hole's movement and deformation will also be measured.
The drill site has been selected in the area where the Northeast Greenland ice stream begins, an area that is likely subject to increased geothermal heat transport from beneath the bedrock. Along with the ice upon which it sits, the research camp and drill hole will move approximately 50 meters a year. It is the first time that an effort is being made to drill such a long ice core through ice that is moving at a speed where the drill hole moves as far as its own diameter on a daily basis.
The ice core measurements are being conducted by a number of research laboratories worldwide and will also serve to shed light on Northeast Greenland’s own climate history. The EastGRIP camp is equipped with a landing strip, buildings for overnight accommodation and workshop facilities. The facilities attract other projects that use the camp as a research base, but are in and of themselves unrelated to the drilling project.
Thus, the camp houses a large number of other projects that conduct scientific research on atmospheric conditions and record data using planes, drones, snowmobiles and windsleds in the area surrounding the ice stream.
Many research groups from around the world are participating in the project, led by the Niels Bohr Institute’s Centre for Ice and Climate. A ski-equipped American C-130 Hercules aircraft provides transportation to and from the ice sheet camp. The Danish contribution is funded by a grant from the A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation for General Purposes.
For more information, please visit www.eastgrip.org, where a journal and photos are uploaded from the research camp every day.