NEEM Update – Plans for Field Season 2008

Map of Greenland showing location of the NEEM ice core

The goal of NEEM (North Greenland Eemian ice drilling) is to obtain a complete ice core record of the climate from the last interglacial period, called the Eemian, in Greenland. In Greenland, the Eemian was several degrees C warmer than today. As such, it is our best analog for a potentially warmer future climate (see previous In-Depth Spring 2007 NEEM story).

The main goal of the NEEM 2008 field season is to construct a fully operational ice drilling camp and to begin deep ice core drilling to about 400 meters depth. Activities will include the drilling, reaming, and casing of the pilot hole to 120 meters depth; installation of all camp infrastructures for the deep drilling operation (main building, weatherports, workshops, drill- ing trench, science trench); and installation of the deep ice coring drill (winch, tower, control cabin, ventilation, fluid handling system).

Upon the arrival of wet drilling equipment by ship in the beginning of July wet drilling to about 400 m will continue until the end of the season. A top slice of the ice core will be cut by band saw for 2.5 cm resolution isotope samples. It is planned to cut at least 12,000 isotope samples from the top 300m of the ice core. All core drilled during the 2008 field season will be logged and stored at NEEM for full core processing, including CFA (continuous flow analysis), during the 2009 NEEM field season. The cut isotope samples will be returned to Copenhagen during the 2008 field season for analysis. The deep drill being used for NEEM is a modified and updated version of the NGRIP deep drill.

Two teams, a United States led team and a Swiss/DK led team will also conduct firn air pumping in the vicinity of NEEM in two shallow boreholes this season. The DK shallow drill will perform pendulum drilling between the two holes. Both cores from the shallow boreholes will be logged, documented and stored at NEEM.

The main transport between NEEM camp and Kangerlussuaq will be by ski-equipped LC-130 airplanes from the U.S. Air Force, 109th Tactical Air Group, Scotia, N.Y. The planes are provided as part of the logistical contribution to NEEM from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

The 2008 NEEM field season is scheduled to take place from May 7 to August 18, 2008, allowing approximately 15 weeks of field- work at NEEM.