Expeditions

June, 2019 Alaska
Denali
2018 Alaska
Kahiltna Glacier, Denali National Park
2017 Alaska
Mt. Hunter, Denali National Park
April-June, 2017 Greenland
GreenTrACS Season 2
April-June, 2016 Greenland
GreenTrACS Season 1

This was our first of two traverses across the western part of the Greenland Ice Sheet percolation zone as part of the GreenTrACS project (Greenland Traverse for Accumulation and Climate Studies). A team of 5 including Erich, Dartmouth graduate students Gabe Lewis and Thomas Overly, Boise State graduate student Tate Ramsden, and Arctic field safety technician Forrest McCarthy traversed over 1000 km from Dye 2 (Raven Camp) to Summit over 6 weeks. They collected snow radar data, snow chemistry samples, 40-50 year-long ice cores, snow reflectivity data, and ice sheet elevation data in order to understand how snowfall and snow melt rates have changed in this region over recent decades, and what mechanisms are driving those changes. The overall objective is to improve our calculations of how fast the Greenland Ice Sheet is melting today from warming temperatures, and how fast it is likely to melt in the future. Of course, the melting Greenland Ice Sheet is a major contributor to sea-level rise. Check out our GreenTrACS video and blog about this research and expeditions!

2016 Alaska
Kahiltna Glacier, Denali National Park
2016 Yukon
Eclipse Icefield
2015-2016 Antarctica
SPICE Drilling
June, 2015 Alaska
Mt. Hunter, Denali National Park

We continued our annual expeditions to Denali to download data from our two weather stations at climber's Base Camp and up at our deep ice core drill site on Mt. Hunter. This was a three-week trip with three graduate students (Dom Winski, Dartmouth; Gabe Lewis, Dartmouth; Tristan Amaral, UNH) and two undergraduate students (Pat Saylor, Dartmouth; David Polashenski, Dartmouth) led by Erich. The weather station data and snow chemistry samples help us to interpret the long ice core in terms of climate and weather variability, by tying snow chemistry to known storm events, and determining the seasonality, vertical gradient, and moisture source regions of snowfall at the ice core site. You can see how much snowfall the ice core site gets by how tall the the weather station is. It will be buried to the crossbar (~15 feet) in 1 year.

May-June, 2014 Greenland
Thule and North Ice Cap
This was a three-week expedition to the Thule, NW Greenland region as part of our NSF-funded project to determine the regional history of climate change and ice sheet response over the past 10,000 years. As in 2012, the expedition comprised two parts: the first was to North Ice Cap (pictured) to collect a 20 m ice core and ice-penetrating radar data for glacier modeling and recent climate analyses; the second was to Landso, a lake in the glacier margin region, to collect lake sediment cores for developing a climate record spanning the past 10,000 years. The team included Erich, Eric Lutz (Dartmouth post-doc), Fredrik Eriksson (Dartmouth undergraduate student), and Ryan O'Grady (LacCore lake core scientist). A second expedition led by our colleague Yarrow Axford (Northwestern) returned to Thule to collect additional lake sediment cores, boulder samples for exposure age dating, and fossil plant material in July-August 2014. See photos of the expedition here.
May-June, 2013 Alaska
Mt. Hunter, Denali National Park
This expedition featured the collection of two ice cores to bedrock (each 208 m long) from the summit plateau (13,000') of Mt. Hunter in Denali National Park. This was part of our NSF-funded project to study the climate history of central Alaska over the past ~1000 years, in collaboration with Cameron Wake (UNH), Karl Kreutz and Sean Birkel (UMaine). This expedition required unusually complex logistics, with the team climbing the Denali West Buttress route to 14,000' for acclimatization, followed by down-climbing to Base Camp (7,200') and helicopter transport to Mt. Hunter. The ice core drilling operations required 9,000 lbs of drilling and camping equipment, and required living at 13,000' for 3 weeks to collect the two cores. Cores were then flown by helicopter to base camp, and then by ski plane to Talkeetna where they were loaded onto freezer trucks for transport to the National Ice Core Laboratory in Denver, CO. We also installed two weather stations on Mt. Hunter and at Base Camp, and collected additional geophysical, remote sensing, and atmospheric data. The team of 12 researchers included Mike Waszkiewicz (ice core driller), Seth Campbell (UMaine PhD candidate), Liz Burakowski (UNH PhD candidate), Tim Godaire (UMaine MSc student), Brad Markel (UW PhD student), Dave Silverstone, Sam Streeter (Dartmouth undergrad), Ken Williams (Nobleboro, ME HS science teacher), and Dom Winski (Dartmouth PhD student), in addition to the PIs (Erich, Cam and Karl). Check out Ken's PolarTrec blog, and an article about the expedition and photos.
2013 Greenland
Thule Lake Sediments
August, 2012 Greenland
Thule and North Ice Cap

Professor Meredith Kelly and Erich led a four-week expedition to the Thule, NW Greenland region as part of our NSF-funded project to determine the history of climate change and ice sheet advance and retreat in this region over the past 10,000 years. The expedition comprised two parts: the first was to North Ice Cap to collect shallow ice cores, ice-penetrating radar data, and install weather stations; the second was to the pro-glacial area of Nuntarssuaq (pictured) where we collected lake sediment cores, sub-fossil plant material melting out of the ice margins (for radiocarbon dating), and boulder samples for 10Be exposure age dating, all to constrain the advance and retreat history of the Greenland Ice Sheet and North Ice Cap. Our team included Eric Lutz (Dartmouth post-doc), Matt Bigl (Dartmouth MSc student), Lee Corbett (Dartmouth PhD candidate), and John Thompson and Ellen Roy (Dartmouth undergraduate students).

July, 2011 Greenland
NW Greenland and Thule

This was a three-week expedition to collect an ice core and ice-penetrating radar data from the 2Barrel site near Camp Century (pictured) in the NW portion of the Greenland Ice Sheet. This work was part of Bob Hawley’s NSF-funded project investigating the near-surface firn from Thule to Summit, Greenland. The team included Erich, Eric Lutz (Dartmouth port-doc), Ali Giese (Dartmouth PhD candidate), and Lee Corbett (UVM PhD candidate). We also collected snow samples to quantify the amount of radioactive fallout from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster. Lee and Erich also collected lake sediment cores, fossil plant material, and boulder samples in the Thule region to constrain the Holocene advance and retreat history of the Greenland Ice Sheet and Tuto ice dome.

2011 Alaska
Denali Fukushima Fallout
September, 2009 Alberta
Peyto and Athabasca Glaciers

Professor Bob Hawley and Erich returned to the Peyto and Athabasca Glaciers in Banff and Jasper National Parks to collect additional low-frequency (50 MHz) ice-penetrating radar data (pictured) to evaluate the recent change in volume of these glaciers under a warming environment. This is a continuation of the research conducted by Dom Winski (Dartmouth undergraduate) for his senior thesis project. Dr. Hawley presented this research at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in 2009, and this work was recently published (Kehrl et al., 2014).

May, 2009 Alaska
Denali Massif

This was a three-week expedition to Denali to recover automatic weather station data, reset the weather station for a second season of data recording, collect ice-penetrating radar data (pictured), collect GPS data to measure glacier surface velocity, and collect snow pit samples for glaciochemical analyses. Most of our work was focused on the Kahiltna Pass site on the Kahiltna Glacier, where we believe an ice core could be recovered to produce a 300-500 year-long record of Arctic climate change and pollution. Members of this expedition included Erich, Seth Campbell (MSc student, UMaine), Tom Callahan (Dartmouth senior thesis student), Max Laurie (UMaine undergraduate), and Kevin Volkening (Montana State U. undergraduate). Eric Kelsey and Seth Campbell presented this research at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in 2009.

July, 2008 Alberta
Peyto Glacier

This was a 10-day expedition to the Peyto Glacier (pictured) in Alberta, Canada with Erich, Tina Praprotnik (Dartmouth undergraduate), Dom Winski (Dartmouth undergraduate) and Matt Siegfried (Dartmouth MSc). The students collected snow and surface water samples for mercury analyses, and ice-penetrating radar data for glacier volume studies. Erich returned to this site in September 2008 to co-lead the Dartmouth “STRETCH” field course segment with Dr. Hawley on glaciology and climate change for 12 undergraduate students. The Peyto Glacier volume research has now been published by Laura Kehrl (Dartmouth ’10).

May, 2008 Alaska
Denali Massif

Month-long reconaissance expedition to the Denali Massif to determine the best location for a deep (500+ year-long) ice core record from the region. This trip was led by Cam Wake (UNH) and Karl Kreutz (UMaine). We collected shallow ice cores, snow pit samples, meteorological data and ice-penetrating radar profiles from two different locations: Kahiltna Pass on the route to the summit, and the Upper Yetna glacier on the nearby Mt. Russell (pictured). This research is part of our efforts to understand late Holocene climate variability and pollution in the North Pacific region during the late Holocene. We have identified a promising deep ice core site on Mt. Hunter where we will collect deep ice cores with a long climate history in a future expedition.

May, 2005 Yukon
Mt. Logan

Month-long expedition to Mt. Logan up to the King Col site (4000 m asl; pictured left) and the nearby Eclipse Site with Gerry Holdsworth from the University of Calgary. We collected snow pit samples and shallow ice cores in support of Erich’s Dissertation research investigating late Holocene North Pacific climate variability and pollution. We also installed 3 automatic weather stations at different elevations in order to get a better understanding of the synoptic dynamics of the “Pineapple Express” storms that bring copius moisture and wind to the mountain. Unfortunately, we were on the mountain when one such storm struck, and another climbing party higher on the mountain required rescue.

February, 2005 Patagonia
Cordillera Darwin

Three-week expedition led by Paul Mayewski (UMaine) to the Cordillera Darwin on the Beagle Channel in southernmost Patagonia, Chile. Because of the limited access of the glaciers in this region, we used a sailboat to drop us off at the terminus of the Sinus Glacier beneith Mt. Darwin. We performed reconaissance of the region to look for a deep ice core site, and collected surface snow and shallow ice core samples for glaciochemical analyses. This fieldwork was part of Dr. Mayewski’s research into changes in zonal atmospheric circulation in the southern ocean in response to climate change. Dr. Mayewski returned with a drilling team to this site in 2006.

November-December, 2003 Antarctica
Dry Valleys

Six week expedition to the Dry Valleys in West Antarctica led by Karl Kreutz (UMaine). Erich was part of the expedition team in year 1, when we visited the Clark, Commonwealth, and Blue Glaciers to collect ice-penetrating radar data (pictured), snow pit and shallow ice core samples, and installed automatic weather stations. Dr. Kreutz returned to these sites for two more seasons, collecting deep (250+ m; 1000+ years) ice core records to investigate Holocene climate variability in the region. The Dry Valleys have a unique climate regime due to their location adjacent to the Ross Sea and the polar plateau. Like all expeditions to this part of Antarctica, we travelled through Christchurch, NZ and the U.S. McMurdo Station on Ross Island. It turns out Erich’s Great Grandfather, Amory “Bud” Waite, was a frequent visitor to “Little America” (as McMurdo base used to be known) with Admiral Byrd back in the 1930s-1950s during the second wave of Antarctica pioneering. Bud was part of the team that rescued Admiral Byrd from “Advance Base” in 1934 after Byrd nearly died from carbon monixide poisoning. Bud Waite also pioneered the use of radio waves to determine the thickness of sea ice. It was amazing for Erich to walk in his great grandfather’s footsteps, literally and scientifically, in such a remote part of the world.

July, 2003 Yukon
Divide Site, Saint Elias Mountains
Two-week expedition to the Divide of the Kaskawalsh Glacier in the Saint Elias Mountains with Karl Kreutz (UMaine). This site has two automatic weather stations maintained by the Geological Survey of Canada. Trips are made annually to download the met station data, and collect snow pit samples for major ions, trace elements, and stable isotopes to investigate how meteorological variables are related to snow chemistry. This has important implications for the interpretation of ice cores in this region. This was Erich’s first polar/high alpine expedition…needless to say, he was hooked.
February, 2001 New Zealand
Lake Tekapo

Two-day expedition to Lake Tekapo with Phaedra Upton (GNS) to collect high-resolution seismic reflection profiles. We were looking for evidence of a major fault, the Irishman Creek Fault, passing through the lake. We were able to collect spectacular images of the thick glacio-lacustine sediment sequence in the lake. We found extensive evidence for folding and faulting in these sediments, as well as several mass-wasting deposits that we used to estimate the past seismic activity in the region.

March-December, 2000 New Zealand
Otago Margin
Erich’s Master’s thesis at the University of Otago was based on high-resolution seismic reflection profiles and side-scan sonar profiles collected above the Otago continental shelf and slope aboard the RV Munida. He spent a total of 14 days on the Munida with Captain Chris Spears collecting data in the best weather the Southern Ocean has to offer. He interpreted these profiles in a sequence stratigraphic framework, identifiying highstand, lowstand, transgressive, and regressive systems tract deposits. He also identified depth-limited deposits such as offshore bars and beach fronts, and paleoshoreline platforms and inflection points, to determine the late Quaternay sea-level history of the margin. These paleoshorelines were depth-corrected using isostatic and crustal loading models.