PROMICE in the field

Signe Bech Andersen, GEUS/Polar Portal

Researchers now assessing changes in the Greenland Ice Sheet

The 2015 field season is now underway on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Researchers from GEUS, DTU-Space and Asiaq Greenland Survey, under the auspices of Programme for Monitoring of the Greenland Ice Sheet (PROMICE), are now in Greenland to assess the state of the ice sheet, both from its surface and airborne surveys.

Monitoring stations visited

An important aspect of the PROMICE monitoring programme is a network of more than twenty automatic stations on the ice sheet that send measurements of melt, weather and ice movement back to Copenhagen via a satellite link. These measurements can be viewed in real-time on the Polar Portal and downloaded by researchers and other interested parties at www.promice.org.

The monitoring stations are situated close to the margin of the ice sheet, where present mass loss is greatest, and are distributed over Greenland’s entire latitude, from Narsarsuaq in South Greenland to Crown Prince Christian’s Land in North Greenland. The monitoring stations at Narsarsuaq, Nuuk, Kangerlussuaq, Upernavik and Tasiilaq will be visited during the July and August PROMICE campaign for regular maintenance.

Airborne surveys

The monitoring stations observations will be supplemented with aircraft surveys. In collaboration with DTU-Space, airborne surveys circumscribing the entire ice sheet margin are made every four years. This survey will be done for the third time by PROMICE in August 2015. The survey aircraft, a Twin Otter, carries advanced equipment to determine its position, a laser to measure the distance to the ice surface below, and a spectrometer to measure reflection of the ice surface. The complete airborne campaign will take about ten days in the two last weeks of August.

Programme objectives

PROMICE was launched in 2007 to monitor the mass loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet. It is financed by the Ministry of Energy, Supply and Climate through the Danish Energy Agency (DANCEA) climate fund. PROMICE is led by the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), with the National Space Institute at Technical University of Denmark (DTU-Space) and Asiaq Greenland Survey as partners. The Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) is a key collaborator, along with several international research institutions. 

Figure 1. Researchers visit a PROMICE automatic monitoring station on the ice margin in Crown Prince Christian’s Land in 2010. Photo: GEUS.
Figure 1. Researchers visit a PROMICE automatic monitoring station on the ice margin in Crown Prince Christian’s Land in 2010. Photo: GEUS.
Figure 2. Twin Otter plane, chartered from Air Greenland, which was used for the PROMICE airborne surveys in 2007 and 2011. Photo: Lars Stenseng.
Figure 2. Twin Otter plane, chartered from Air Greenland, which was used for the PROMICE airborne surveys in 2007 and 2011. Photo: Lars Stenseng.