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> June 5, 2006, International Summit Camp
Kevin_McMahon
post Jun 12 2006, 06:57 PM
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High Temperature -15 degrees Celsius
Low Temperature - 26 degrees Celsius

International Summit Camp

On Thursday, an excited announcement came over the camp radio. Liz Morris and John Pailthorpe were spotted near camp. We don’t get many visitors to Summit Camp. Most of the visitors come by plane. Liz and John, however, came by snowmobile.

They had been traversing (crossing) the ice sheet for the last 6 weeks. There are no highways on the ice sheet. They navigated by using a GPS unit. There were no hotels along the way. Each night, they had to pitch their tent, melt their water and prepare their meals.

Liz is from Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Campbridge in England. John is a teacher from Wales who is an experienced polar explorer. Why were they traveling by snowmobile? They were taking snow density measurements. By using an auger, they would dig a 14 meter hole in the snow and drop down an instrument to measure how packed in the snow was at different depths.

The European Space Agency is very interested in their work. The European Space Agency had a satellite named CryoSat which was designed to test the hypothesis that the arctic ice is thinning because of global warming. By having Liz and John take measurements on the ground, the European Space Agency could see how accurate their satellite measurements were.

CyroSat was launched on October 8, 2005 from Russia. Unfortunately, the satellite did not get into orbit and crashed into the Arctic Ocean. To read a newspaper article on the CryoSat crash, click here.

Even though the satellite crashed, Liz and John have continued with their work. The European Space Agency is hoping to relaunch a new CyroSat satellite in the year 2009. Below is a picture of John, me, and Liz in front of the Big House.

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Both Liz and John will head home on June 7. Liz and another colleague will return to Summit in July and will snowmobile down the ice sheet taking further measurements.


Besides Liz and John from the United Kingdom, Summit Camp also was home to researchers from Switzerland and France. Carl and Hans from Switzerland were taking very precise radiation measurements from their tower. Below is a picture of their tower which is 50 meters tall. On many afternoons, I would see Hans climbing to the top of the tower to make adjustments to the instruments.

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Xavier is a researcher from France. Xavier is studying the amount of mercury found in the snow. Here is a picture of Gayle speaking French with Xavier. How serious are you about learning another language? It really comes in handy when working with people who live in different parts of the world.

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