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> June 7, 2006 - Goodbye Summit, Hello Kangerlussuaq, What We Learned!
Kevin_McMahon
post Jun 16 2006, 02:29 AM
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Goodbye Summit, Hello Kangerlussauq

What We Learned!!!


High Temperature in Summit: -15 degrees Celsius
Low Temperature in Summit: -25 degrees Celsius

High Temperature in Kangerlussauq: +12 degrees Celsius
Low Temperature in Kangerlussauq: +5 degrees Celsius

I woke up early this morning. We had to have all our bags in front of the Green House before 8:00 a.m.

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I took one last glance at my home. Look, Chartavia, my tent is clean!

Around 11:00 a.m., the camp radio crackled with the voice of an Air National Guard pilot. Our C-130 plane was about to land. Everyone at camp was excited to see the plane. It had been over two weeks since a plane had landed. We rushed towards the skiway to get a good look. I will never get bored watching a plane landing on the snow. I am still amazed that this plane can carry so much cargo and can land so softly on this unlikely runway.

The wind was much stronger today. As a result, my fingers got cold very quickly as I tried to take pictures of the plane.

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Our C-130 plane. The propellers are still spinning.


It took about an hour for the crew to unload all the cargo and to pump diesel fuel into the camp’s underground fuel tank. The plane kept its engines running (and the propellers spinning) the whole time. I guess they didn’t want the engine to get cold and not be able to get it started again.


While we were waiting for the fuel to be moved, we jumped onto snowmobiles with our new arrivals and headed to Big House. We had just enough time to get one last cup of hot chocolate and welcome the six new scientists and staff to Summit.

Goodbye Summit Camp. I will miss you.

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A view from the airplane. Can you see the tents?

As I sat on the plane, I was thinking about all the research that the Georgia Tech team performed. As you may recall, we were studying particles in the air and in the snow. We were initially trying to figure out what type of particles were in the air and the snow. Then, we were going to try to examine more closely how these particles change as they go from the air, to the snow, and then perhaps back into the air.

What did we discover? We discovered that you need to be patient with science. Our air samplers (the high vol and low vol machines) continue to filter the air and deposit air particles on filters. Gayle will continue to remove these filters and pack them carefully in boxes so that they can be brought back to Georgia Tech for more analysis.

We also need to be patient with our snow samples. After we collected the samples, we brought them into our heated lab. What happened when the snow warmed up? It melted, of course! We took this melted snow water and poured it over a filter. The particles that were in the snow water were trapped in the filter. Gayle is carefully packing these filters up so she can bring them back to Georgia Tech for further analysis.

Even though we need to wait on these results, there are some things that we learned so far:

1. There are particles in the air in Summit, Greenland. Most of the air particles are very small, .5 microns in size. A micron is one millionth of a meter long. That is tiny!
2. The amount of particles in the air changes. Sometimes the concentration of air particles is near zero. At other times, the concentration of the air particles is 100 times greater than that. Since the number of air particles seems to go down when a fog rolls in, we think that the fog might be making these particles leave the air and land on the ground. This is our hypothesis.

3. There are black particles in the snow. We can’t see them with our eyes. However, when we collect a snow sample, melt the snow, and put the water through a filter, black particles are left behind in the filter.

4. When a lot of black particles land on the snow, more of the sun’s energy gets absorbed into the snow and less of the sun’s energy is reflected back into the sky. We learned this from our 6th grade experiment.

5. What types of particles are in the air and in the snow? We do not know yet. Gayle will continue to collect particles from the air and snow and will bring them back to Georgia Tech where a machine will help us analyze them quickly. We should have some results in September.

6. Where did the particles in the air come from? We know the particles did not come from camp because our sampling machines shut down when the wind blew from the main camp towards our clean air area. Since the particles were so small (.5 microns), we have a hypothesis that they came from a place that was a long distance away from Greenland.

I will update my teacher journal in September with new information. Stay tuned for more details.

I am going to close my eyes now and think about Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. It will take us two and one-half hours to get there. It is hard to imagine that there is that much snow and ice in Greenland. I wonder what Kangerlussauq will be like? I was there at the beginning of the trip but only for an afternoon. I hear that there is a glacier nearby. I hope I get to see it. Goodbye for now.

Arctic Question of the Day: Why do you think Mike and Gayle decided to take air and snow samples throughout the summer instead of just taking one sample?
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