April 28, 2010
April 13, 2010
Bureau of Reclamation to Announce a New Approach
toward the "Teton Dam" Study:
Public Invited to Meeting April 20th
Last year, the state of Idaho allocated $400,000 in matching funds for the BOR to study the feasibility of rebuilding the Teton Dam in the Teton River canyon, or building an off-channel dam at another location in the basin. After many strategic discussions with American Rivers, TU, and Idaho Rivers United about including cheaper, less environmentally damaging alternatives to the rebuilding of the Teton Dam, the BOR has developed a "Henrys Fork Special Study Framework" which will focus on conservation and changes in water management, as well as storage alternatives, using a collaborative stakeholder-driven approach.
The BOR plans to unveil its new strategy at the next meeting of the Henrys Fork Watershed Council on Tuesday, April 20th at the Mountain View Inn (formerly Best Western CottonTree) Conference Center in Rexburg . This meeting is open to the Public. For detailed schedule, click here to be directed to the HFWC website and click the "meeting schedule" tab at the top of the page.
April 11, 2010
From: Kip Rithner
To: “Robin Davies”
Date: Tuesday, April 6, 2010, 2:33 PM
How’s it going out there in the wild?
What’s it like in that Tucker cab hour after hour? Do you listen to music or books on tape, talk about past and future exploits?
From: Robin Davies
To: “Kip Rithner”
Date: Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 4:55 AM
When we are covering new ground that we expect to have crevasses, quite a lot of the time, it’s a bit intense in the cab. Allan has to continually watch the GPR screen and can’t afford to be distracted, Jen is watching our progress overlaid on the satellite imagery and looking at surrounding features to tie them into what she sees on her laptop screen, and I’m concentrating on trying to drive as straight a course as possible with the GPS. At other times on easier ground or ground we have covered before, we talk, tell stories and laugh a lot. But no book reading and definitely no singing!
Yesterday we found our way through what we thought might have been an impenetrable barrier of crevasses and reached a point that’s on the old route that will become the new way point B9F. From there it’s a clear run to B10 and then a few minor crevasses to check out before we reach our goal of B11. Hopefully we’ll do that today.
On the way back to camp we widened that day’s section of the route and double-checked a few features Allan had seen on the GPR until he was happy and gave the route his approval. From there Kevin parked up his skidoo and joined us in the Tucker to boogie on back to camp at an exhilarating 10mph!
During the last few days, the Strategic Crevasse Avoidance Team (SCAT) has passed out more flags than the Grand Marshall at a Fourth of July parade. Of course, the flags fluttering in SCAT’s wake are of the black variety used to mark crevasses.
The team is picking its way through some pretty tumbled territory on the Greenland ice sheet. ”It was a difficult day today for the ground-penetrating radar (GPR) team,” Allen Cornelison reported yesterday, 5 April. “But they did make some headway. They found multiple crevasses that were not on the satellite imagery.”
Allen’s report a day earlier mentioned SCAT had found a crevasse that had opened up to 12 feet wide, with a sagging bridge that Allan Delaney could see on the GPR imagery—a common occurrence in Antarctica, but a first in Greenland for the radar expert, Cornelison mentioned.
We heard from Robin Davies later: “We had to find a route that took us between two parallel crevasses. We zig-zagged back and forth, turning each time the GPR detected the crevasses, until we made it through. A technique we refer to as “threading the needle.”
Crevasse avoidance made for a lot of zig-zags. “Those of us watching the tracker this evening thought they had turned around because they could not get through,” Cornelison remarked. “But as it turns out, it was just time to come back to camp. This is decent news: they were not stopped in their tracks.”
That these crevasses were undetected by satellite suggests just how important the SCAT’s job is prior to the inland traverse start-up. Nothing can replace boots-on-the-ground, especially boots belonging to these fine people: Allan Delaney, a retired CRREL radar expert, who pioneered ground-penetrating radar crevasse detection techniques while leading the United States Antarctic Program’s (USAP) effort to find a safe route to the South Pole, and who was recently coaxed from retirement to continue contributing to the GrIT; Jen Mercer, an earth sciences PhD and USAP research veteran; Kevin Emery, expert rock-climber and mountaineer, who has taught a myriad of people to explore high-altitude, difficult terrain all over the world, including the USAP; and Robin Davies—well, the polar chapter in his career began with the British Antarctic Survey in 1974, but it is only one of many storied adventures.
Meanwhile, Back at the Transition . . .
While the SCAT (Strategic Crevasse Avoidance Team) chugs slowly across the first leg of the traverse route to Summit looking for hidden hazards, back at Thule Air Base, a set of experiments will soon begin. The goal: to discover how to maximize operational efficiency at the sled level. CRREL’s Jim Lever, who is running the technical side of this effort, collaborated with PFS’ Allen Cornelison to provide the following background on sled mobility tests, which will begin out at the transition later in the week.
We want to reduce the over-snow sliding friction of the fuel-bladder sleds to increase the payload GrIT can tow to Summit. Sled temperature plays a dominant role: the warmer the sled the lower the sliding friction. Warming the sleds is a challenge at the low temperatures encountered on the Greenland ice sheet, and we will try two approaches.
1. One sled will have black covers over the two fuel bladders to absorb the sun’s energy to help warm the fuel and consequently the sled. The image below shows this sled with the rear 3,000-gallon bladder partially filled. This passive heating is simple and inexpensive and should work well during the long daylight hours when skies are clear.
2. The other sled will have electric heating blankets under its two bladders. The image below shows it being assembled prior to transport to the ice edge. The four blankets are rated at 1,700 watts each and will be connected to a 15,000 watt diesel-powered generator. The generator is over-sized to accommodate reduced power output at high altitude (up to 10,000 ft) expected along the route.
Each sled contains 46 thermocouples to measure the sled-snow interface temperature along its length (you can see them disappear under the heating blankets in the picture above). Other sensors will measure towing forces, air and bladder temperatures, solar insolation (how much energy is available from the sun), travel speed and altitude. A datalogger stores all these data until Jim downloads them to his computer for analysis.
If all goes well, we will learn how to build the next generation of sleds to increase the efficiency and hence payback of GrIT for fuel and cargo delivery to Summit.
The Greenland Inland Traverse is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). CH2M HILL Polar Services and Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratories are working together with the NSF to develop the traverse infrastructure and route. The 2010 spring traverse has several foci: find a safe overland route to Summit Station to help reduce logistical costs and environmental impacts of conducting research there; provide a research platform for scientists conducting field work in Greenland; optimize mobility by focusing on the sled/snow interface. For more field notes coverage of GrIT, click here.
Jay Burnside, Polar Field Services, CH2M HILL Polar Services
Jay at polarfield.com
2 April 2010 20:00 Thule Local
Flagged to: B6
GPS Coordinates: N 76 26.568 W 66 6.110
Wind: SW 5mph
Temp: Unreported but colder than April 1st
All is going well. The team found crevasses near B5 today. There is now a slight route change which has moved B5 to the south.
The wannigan is quite warm and needs to be vented when the heater is on. Tomorrow they will move camp up to B6 and prospect further up the route. A weather forecast check shows our area to be clear through Wednesday with light winds. Thursday promises increasing clouds and wind speeds to 28k.
Email from Robin Davies, PFS equipment operator/mechanic:
“It went great yesterday; the tucker pulled the setup no problem at all. Once the surface smoothed out we were doing 6-7.5mph in second gear at 2,000 rpm. Haven’t found any problems with our camp set up yet and it’s a gloriously sunny day up here this morning.”
Email from Allan Delaney (radar expert):
“Internet on the Greenland ice sheet.
“All is well. Cold at night. Bright sunshine today with some wind. A cold day for Kevin. We’ve worked to B6 and returned to camp. There are two substantial crevasses which parallel both the old route and the new diversion. All well marked by Kevin after discovery by Jen with a zig-zag survey. No problem for passage. Glad to hear that SCAT [the new name the GPR team has adopted] is a big hit.”
The distance traveled today: about 12 miles.—Alan Cornelison
The Greenland Inland Traverse is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). CH2M HILL Polar Services and Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratories are working together with the NSF to develop the traverse infrastructure and route. The 2010 spring traverse has several foci: find a safe overland route to Summit Station to help reduce logistical costs and environmental impacts of conducting research there; provide a research platform for scientists conducting field work in Greenland; optimize mobility by focusing on the sled/snow interface. For more field notes coverage of GrIT, click here.GrIT contact:Jay Burnside, Polar Field Services, CH2M HILL Polar Services Construction/Operations managerJay at polarfield.com
On Thursday, 1 April, the ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey team–rechristened, perhaps only temporarily, the “Strategic Crevasse Avoidance Technicians,” or SCAT–departed Thule, made their final approach to the transition, and climbed on to the ice sheet to finish flagging a safe route for the first 60 miles of the Greenland Inland Traverse (GrIT) path to Summit. In addition to the instruments and equipment that will enable them to do their jobs, they tow life support: the camping wannigan (a large camp box with kitchen and warm-up facilities), the orange sled, and a fuel bladder on a plastic fuel sled. They have 150 lbs of propane, about 700 gallons of fuel and about a month of food.
The team members are Kevin Emery (GrIT mountaineer), Jen Mercer (CRREL project manager), Allan Delaney (GPR specialist) and Robin Davies (operator and mechanic, with too many other qualifications to list).
On Tuesday, 30 March, while traveling between B3 and B4 waypoints (between 14 and 17 miles from the transition), the team encountered crevasses that were not apparent on the satellite imagery and which had not been encountered during the 2008 GPR survey. One crevasse was estimated to be one meter wide.
The team found three other crevasses in the same area, more evidence of the changeable nature of the ice sheet margins. Kevin Emery used a 2.5 meter probe to explore these crevasses, but could not determine the width of the cracks, though he dug into the snow bridge to gain deeper penetration looking for the void. The team could not find safe passage through this area before returning to Thule to brainstorm with the entire GrIT team for possible solutions to the problem.
The results of their efforts can be seen in the track image below.
After consulting with the GrIT team in Thule, we decided to look further south of the original route. On Wednesday, 31 March, the GPR team quickly found a way around the problem area, encountering a crevasse only 16 inches wide. We await good images of the new route, but can say that this change has actually straightened out the line from B2 to B4, decreasing the GrIT route by one mile, per Jen Mercer.
While the GPR team is on the ice, those of us in Thule now begin to focus on the sled mobility tests. More on that soon.—Allen Cornelison
The Greenland Inland Traverse is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). CH2M HILL Polar Services and Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratories are working together with the NSF to develop the traverse infrastructure and route. The 2010 spring traverse has several foci: find a safe overland route to Summit Station to help reduce logistical costs and environmental impacts of conducting research there; provide a research platform for scientists conducting field work in Greenland; optimize mobility by focusing on the sled/snow interface. For more field notes coverage of GrIT, click here.GrIT contact:Jay Burnside, Polar Field Services, CH2M HILL Polar ServicesConstruction/Operations manager
Robin Davies sent a note this morning with some pictures from yesterday’s GrIT efforts near Thule Air Base in Greenland. Windy conditions, especially at the transition to the ice edge, have been cramping the GrIT team’s plans. But today, the GPR team looking for crevasses and other dangers on the first part of the route are hoping to make a long trip out on the ice sheet, “if the weather holds,” as Robin wrote.