Arctic Circle Traverse

Baptiste Vandecrux
April 27th 2016

The ACT-16 team investigates snow and firn processes on the Greenland ice sheet

An international team of 11 scientists from 6 different institutions prepare for a five-week expedition on the ice sheet to investigate snow and firn processes in a warming climate. Another sign of changing surface conditions of the Greenland ice sheet was added to the ever growing list when exceptionally early melt and high temperatures were observed on the ice sheet few weeks ago (links: or, which makes the investigation of changes in high elevation snow and firn ever more important. For the  fourth time, Mike MacFerrin takes on the field leader role of the Arctic Circle Traverse (ACT), a scientific expedition that have been bringing every year or so glaciologists and climatologists to the Greenland ice sheet. Mike and his team have been collecting valuable information on the ice sheet's firn and snow conditions and on their reaction to a warmer climate.

The ACT-16 campaign is now on its way and will be heading out from Kangerlussuaq this Saturday (23 April 2016) to conduct crucial experiments on different sites of the accumulation zone. Indeed the campaign got way beyond its own name since it will not only traverse on snowmobile from DYE2 to KAN-U weather station but also fly to Summit Camp and EastGRIP (See Figure). Compaction rate, meltwater percolation and retention, firn permeability and many other parameters will be studied using various and innovative techniques. The precious information that the team will bring back, along with the data from previous ACT campaigns will give a unique perspective on the changes that the surface of the ice sheet is undergoing at this moment. The work aims to understand the governing processes better, and thus to model more accurately, how the Greenland ice sheet is responding under a warming climate.

The participants to this year's campaign are:

Mike MacFerrin - Colorado University - Expedition organizer

Max Stevens - University of Washington

Darren Hill - Mechanic and photographer

Liam Colgan - York University

Aleah Sommers - Colorado University

Baptiste Vandecrux - Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland & Technical University of Denmark

Achim Heilig, Leander Gambal and Bastian Gerling -  Ludwig-Maximilian University

Shawn Marshall and Samira Samimi - University of Calgary

More info and relation of their fieldwork can be found on their blog: