The Pyrenean Institute of Ecology (IPE -CSIC, Higher Council for Scientific Research) assists in the WindSled expedition with the launch of two scientific projects to be developed during the journey, with a third one from the WindSled Project itself.
1. MONITORING OF TEMPERATURE AND RELATIVE HUMIDITY FOR THE VALIDATION OF CLIMATE MODELS IN GREENLAND
The expedition will carry aboard a weather station to record the temperature and relative humidity data every hour throughout the route. They are sensors that are placed two meters from the ground and which are programmed to gather data at a given time. These records will be used for validation of simulations of different models of weather conditions in Greenland. These are the models that reports like the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are based on.
At present, there are few scientific studies validating these climate models with actual observations in a large polar territory. The records will be used to verify that the models are useful for studying the evolution and climate change in the region. Thus, the monitoring will advance knowledge of the degree of uncertainty of existing models of climate change projections over the next decades, in relation to the increased concentration of greenhouse gases. It is a project led by Mr. Juan Ignacio Lopez, an expert geographer who studies snow, glaciers and climate change at the Department of Geo Environmental Processes and Global Change IPE- CSIC.
2. CHARACTERIZATION OF THE SNOW MANTLE ON THE INLANDSIS GLACIER
To date there have been no manual measurements of the thickness of the snow cover and its water content (SWE, snow water equivalent) on a route with these features in Greenland: nearly 3,106 mi (5,000 km) long. Following is the goal of the IPE project: to characterize that snow. The task is also directed by Mr. Juan Ignacio Lopez.
To realize this, the expedition will carry on board a 5.25 ft (1.60 m) drill with which holes are drilled in the snow to measure its density, and a scale for weighing it. With the perforator, they will probe much of last year’s snow layer so they can analyze its properties. In addition, measures will be taken every
3.9 inches (10 cm) to analyze the snow density at different levels and down to 3.28 ft (1 m) in depth.
The hypothesis is that the snow accumulated over more than one year turns into firn or ice, so that the measurements carried out offer a real picture of the snow accumulated in the previous year, important information for the gradients of rainfall in the region and the water content of the surface snow mantle. This data will also be utilized to obtain temperatures from the previous months. Data collection will take place every 62 mi (100 km).
Furthermore, temperature measurements of the snow mantle at different depths will be taken, which will gather information on the properties of the snow cover, its metamorphosing mechanisms and thermal conditions of past weeks and months. For the latter process, they will bear a thermometer – rod 3.28 ft (1 m) long.
3. MEASUREMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL RADIOACTIVITY
From decades ago with the end of the Cold War, abandoned military installations in Greenland have most likely left their radioactive footprint. In addition, in year 1968, in the Thule region, an American airplane with four nuclear bombs aboard had an accident, spreading radioactivity. One of the bombs has never been recovered. The expedition will carry radioactivity meters to check if the pollution persists when passing near the affected areas.