Kate Denoncourt, a senior geology major from Concord, N.H., traveled to Greenland last summer for a research internship. She spent three weeks analyzing air and snow samples collected at the highest point on the Greenland ice sheet, 10,500 feet above sea level, as part of a National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs investigation. Here are a few excerpts from her journal.
"We were told to dress as though the plane [to Summit Camp] was going to crash, which didn't put me at ease, but I bundled up with all my winter survival clothing. ... The plane was very low, when all of a sudden, an automated voice over the head phones came on saying, 'Danger, terrain! Danger, terrain!' For a second I panicked, thinking we were headed straight into the mountains, but saw that this didn't seem to worry the captain, so assumed we were so low to check out the scenery."
"The main house [at Summit Camp] is called the Big House and is where we eat and shower. ... The camp produces water by melting snow. Before taking a shower, we have to make sure the water level in the tank is high enough to allow a four-minute shower, or else we have to shovel snow into the melter. We are allowed two showers a week."
"Our lab is in a heated tent about 200 feet from the Big House. ... The walls are lined with tables, and we have all our equipment and laptops filling the table space. ... I am in charge of the ion chromatograph (IC for short). The IC takes a sample [of air] and is able to separate specific ions depending on their strength."
"The area that we sleep in is about 500 feet from the Big House. It is filled with about 15 yellow arctic tents that have mattresses inside. Daily we have to shovel out our tents, as snow drifts build up along the walls. ... I have a subzero sleeping bag with a fleece liner to keep me warm. I also sleep with a hat on and a scarf around my eyes [because of the 24-hour daylight]. Getting undressed to get into the sleeping bag is incredibly cold, but once I am inside the sleeping bag, it is warm." ~
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