1 May 2015

The first direct diary from NEEM 2015

The crew of five are left alone on the ice sheet.

The crew of five are left alone on the ice sheet.

While five people arrived at NEEM on Monday, April 27, we didn’t have direct internet connection until this morning. All communication between us and the people in Kangerlussuaq was done via satellite phone. Now we are connected, and here is a short resume on events of the last five days:

Monday, April 27: Five people (Sverrir, Mathias, Helle, Sepp and J.P.) flew with the 109th from Kangerlussuaq at 9.40. At 12.20 we landed at NEEM on the open snow  and the plane taxied into camp. The old skiway was almost gone.

After 25 minutes the plane was airborne again at 12.45, and we were alone.

Gaining entrance to the main dome was relatively easy. It was good to get out of the wind as the temperature was -33 °C with a 8 m/s wind.

Inside the main dome we found a note on the table from a U.S. science expedition that visited NEEM in 2013 and 2014.

The dome was found in good order, albeit cold. With shovels and picks we gained access to the carpenters garage and pulled out our 15kW backup generator. This powered the main dome from 16.10.

At 17.00 we got our Pistenbully started, and it went fine although this vehicle has been in a deep frozen condition in three years. With the Pistenbully out, we were in action.

We picked up the main generator on its snow hill and pulled it to camp, and by 21.15 the main dome was under full power.

Tuesday, April 28:  First priority was to mark the ski landing area for the next four landings with LC-130, Hercules. All the old skiway markers were almost but gone. The top 2-5 cm of a few markers could be found, however this was enough to mark the ski landing area on top of the old NEEM skiway.
Once the new marking was done, we could begin grooming the landing strip.

Sverrir excavated the entrance to the mechanics garage, and now we had access to all structures at NEEM.

Late in the evening, temperatures in the main dome went above freezing.

Wednesday, April 29: As we were expecting a flight from Thule on Thursday, we focussed on making things ready. The landing area was groomed several times, and the markings were completed. Mathias and Helle cleaned the main dome, and collected all food stored in the basement. Sverrir managed to start our Caterpillar loader and made the fuel pump ready.

Thursday, April 30: This was an anxious day. Only 72 hours after arrival in a camp that has been inactive for three years, we received a plane from Thule carrying tools and spareparts for the U.S. GrIT tractor left at NEEM in 2014, and most importantly, Pat, the driver and technician from GrIT. Operations went very well, and after one hour the plane departed for Thule to pick up fuel and more parts.

The plane landed again at 17.00 and departed at 17.35. In the process, we received 6,200 liter fuel, and we are now able to support several planned Twin Otter flights from NASA and NSF projects in North Greenland.

Most importantly, however, was that the pilots were satisfied enough to allow for heavier payloads, and this was crucial for our planning as we have a 7.5 ton Pistenbully in Kangerlussuaq that we need for our planned traverse.

Thank you, 109th for an excellent show.

Today, Friday, May 1: We had planned for receiving the last two flights with LC-130 from Kangerlussuaq today; but one plane did not come due to technical problems discovered in Kangerlussuaq.

However, we did receive one, and what a change in camp! In the morning, we were six people in camp; but this evening we are 13. Hello to Paul, Anna, Joel, Dean, Orlando, Nanna and Dorthe.

Dean and Orlando are here to maintain the GLISN seismic station. This station will remain in operation even after we abandon the NEEM site. Next week, they will be picked up by a Twin Otter.

We were able to present the newcomers with a warm and cosy dome, and Helle had prepared a nice dinner for all.

The cancelled plane with our Pistenbully cannot arrive before Monday, as we need Thule to be open for safety of operations. One person that needs to come to NEEM waits in Kangerlussuaq over the week-end and that is a Pistenbully specialist we need to assemble the vehicle. He is, however, not alone, as Bo Vinther from the RECAP project is now acting FOM in Kangerlussuaq and another member of the RECAP projects is there as well.

Bo was able to extend best regards from our colleagues on the Renland ice cap in Scoresbysund Fjord, our colleagues in Mestersvig and our colleagues in Neerleriit Inaat (Konstabel Pynt). Never before, in the history of Danish ice core science, has one ice core group been active in so many spots in Greenland at the same time.       

What we did Monday
1.    Five people arrived at NEEM
2.    Outhouse ready
3.    Opened main dome
4.    Opened Carpenters garage
5.    We have one snowblower, 2 snowmobiles and one Pistenbully running
6.    Started main generator.
7.    Tomato sled pulled into camp

What we did Tuesday
1.    Almost finished new marking of landing area and taxiway and apron.
2.    Groomed the landing area.
3.    Opened the mechanics garage
4.    Opened the basement under the dome.
5.    Setup of the meteorological station

What we did Wednesday
1.    Cleared all food from basement under the dome. The basement is full of snow, as heavy melting in past summers has caused the snow wall of the basement to sink and become open for snow drift.
2.    Cleaned in the main dome.
3.    Finished marking ski landing area.
4.    Zig-zag groomed and groomed along on the landing strip and groomed taxiway and northern half of apron.
5.    Caterpillar and Flexmobil now running.

What we did Thursday
1.    Received Skier 31 twice, bringing Pistenbully belts, GrIT equipment and fuel.
2.    Repaired ski landing area to receive an upgrade.
3.    Checked the science GPS systems.
4.    Sepp began German top snow sampling.
5.    New arrival: Pat smith from GrIT traverse.

What we have done today
1.    Unpacking GrIT cargo and excavating the GrIT tractor.
2.    Building a pallet with cargo for Kangerlussuaq.
3.    Receiving Skier 52, and 7 passengers.
4.    Unpacking arriving cargo and food.
5.    Began excavation of one of the two GLISN sites.

Monday weather: Clear all day. Temp. – 33 °C to -38 C, 12-16 knots from SSE. Visibility: To horizon.
Tuesday weather: Clear all day. Temp. – 28 °C to -35 C, 10-15 knots from ESE. Visibility: To horizon.
Wednesday weather: Clear all day. Temp. – 32 °C to -34 C, 8 knots from SE. Visibility: To horizon.
Thursday weather: Clear all day. Temp. – 26 °C to -38 C, 8-10 knots from ESE. Visibility: To horizon.
Friday weather: Clear all day. Temp. – 27 °C to -38 °C, 5-8 knots from ESE. Visibility: To horizon.

We are now 10 NEEMers, 2 GLISN and 1 GrIT personnel in camp.

FL, J.P. Steffensen

Touch-down of the plane today, bringing 7 new members to camp.

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