Permafrost drillings in Greenland
During the last 10 days a research team from UNIS and the University of Copenhagen has drilled deeper boreholes into the permafrost in the Zackenberg valley at 74°N in northeastern Greenland. We are approaching 50 m depth, and still have a few days left of the campaign.
Text: Hanne H. Christiansen, UNIS professor in physical geography
We have collected cores from various depths, allowing much new information on the permafrost, such as age, ice content, stratigraphy and DNA content.
The team is working at Zackenberg as part of the EU Page21 project “Changing Permafrost in the Arctic and its Global Effects in the 21st Century”, as part of the DEFROST Nordic Centre of Excellence and as part of the new Danish basic research centre CENPERM, University of Copenhagen. Funding to get part of the team and some of the equipment to Zackenberg is from the EU ESFRI project INTERACT, enabling cooperation at existing Arctic Research stations.
The team consists of PhD students Stefanie Härtel (Page21) and Jordan Mertes (DEFROST) and professor Hanne H. Christiansen (UNIS and CENPERM) in addition to Ulrich Neumann from Kolibri Geoservices. Also professor Bo Elberling who is the CENPERM leader and adjunct professor at UNIS is involved. Both Stefanie and Jordan are based both at UNIS and at the University of Copenhagen.
Cooperation across the Greenland Sea
The UNIS based permafrost drill rig, called Betty, has successfully sailed from Svalbard in May via Norway, Denmark, and West Greenland up to northeastern Greenland during summer 2012. After arriving at the Daneborg military station in mid-August, Betty flew the last 25 km to Zackenberg Ecological Research Operations (ZERO) and was awaiting us when we arrived here on 30 August.
ZERO has a very comprehensive 15 year basic monitoring programme, covering biology and physical geography. But it was only six days ago that any deeper permafrost information has been collected. So the research based installations we make here will in the future also be part of the GeoBasis monitoring programme.
Fieldwork has been in super conditions with 10 days of sun from a blue sky and air temperatures from minus 4°C to plus 4°C. Nights are getting almost dark here now at 74°N, and the ground is starting to freeze. Winter is coming and we are heading home north to Svalbard at the end of next week, via Iceland and Oslo. A journey which lasts three days, despite the short distance between Svalbard and northeastern Greenland.
Jordan Mertes, Ulrich Neumann and Stefanie Härtel ready to start drilling on 1 September 2012 in Zackenberg, northeastern Greenland. (Photo: Hanne H. Christiansen/UNIS).