The East Greenland Ice-core Project EASTGRIP


The base of the international project EastGRIP (EGRIP) is a scientific facility located in the center of the most important ice stream in East Greenland. The facilities come from the European NEEM project’s former camp, which was moved 465 km (289 mi) to its new location. The project began in its current enclave between May and June 2015, with the intention of drilling through the ice stream to reach 2,550 meters (8,366 ft) in depth, in successive campaigns until 2020. The previous NEEM project was able to reach 2,537 meters (8324 ft), revealing the climatic events between 115,000 and 130,000 years ago.

EGRIP is a key international enclave for the study of climate change. It forms part of the Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP), which began in Greenland in 1989 through the European Science Foundation and with nine European countries involved. With GRIP, perforations have been made at 3,029 meters (9938 ft) in depth at Summit Camp (1990-1992), visited last year by the WindSled.

Now EGRIP is situated in northeastern Greenland, just above the largest ice current in Greenland. The current is divided into three major flows (Nioghalvfjerds isstrømmen, Zachariae isbræ and Storstrømmen). These ice flows reach the highest speeds recorded on the Arctic island, about 100 meters (109.3 yd) per year for a 200 km (124 mi) distance. It pushes with intensity even at 500 km (311 mi) from the coast.

The drilling of an ice core that traverses those 2,550 meters (8,366 ft) of ice to the rock bed, the main objective of EGRIP, will allow the study of the ice flow dynamics in a current that discharges into the ocean. These works are complemented with the collection of snow batons in different points, task in which the WindSled participates under this campaign.

In 2016, over 200 meters (656 ft) of underground caves were excavated at EGRIP, which have been equipped as science labs, ice drilling caves and ice core storage areas. In 2016, they drilled 110 meters (360 ft ) deep; The second phase begins in May 2017.

EGRIP currently has 52% Danish funding (Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen) and has the support and participation of the US National Science Foundation (USA); The Alfred Wegener Institute (Germany), Laboratory of Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics (France); The National Polar Research Institute (Japan); The Institute of Earth Sciences (Iceland); The Italian Institute of Environmental Dynamics (Italy); The Bjerknes Institute (Norway); The University of Bern (Switzerland); The Korean Institute of Polar Research (South Korea); The Chinese Academy of Sciences. In total, 12 countries. Spanish scientists collaborate for the first time with EGRIP thanks to the WindSled.

On location in the northeast ice sheet of Greenland, it has a 3 km (1,8 mi) runway for airplanes, housing for 30 people, infrastructures and fuel supply.

Among the new ice core drilling projects in Greenland at EGRIP, Dark Snow, with Jason Box, and Ice2Ice are the higlighted ones. The latter initiated by four Danish and Norwegian institutions and directed by Eystein Jansen, Kerim Hestnes Nisancioglu, Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen, Bo Møllesøe Vinther and the Italian Paul Travis Vallelonga.







Paul Vallelonga with a colleague from his laboratory.

The Italian researcher Paul Travis Vallelonga is one of the promoters of the EastGRIP base and the scientific ice drilling project. He is considered one of the most relevant scientists in the Arctic concerning climate change. He currently works at the University of Copenhagen and the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark.

He has participated in scientific studies of great international impact, like the one that discovered that the industrial pollution of the XIX century still persists on Antarctic ice, in particular lead that arrived by air from Australia; Also the study that revealed the acidity levels of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Today, along with other colleagues, he has the Ice2Ice project under way to discover what caused rapid climate change events such as those discovered in the first ice cores in Greenland, a project for which they are collecting new ice cores at the EGRIP base since 2016. Ice2Ice also investigates the changes that are occurring in sea ice, thanks to the chemical analyzes carried out using a technique developed by Vallelonga himself.

Vallelonga has numerous publications in the best scientific journals, such as Nature, PNAS, and so on.

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