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Summit Station

STATION NAME AND OWNER: Summit Station is operated by the American-based CH2M HILL Polar Services with support from the US National Science Foundation.

LOCATION: Summit Station is located on the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet at 3,216 metres m a.s.l. The camp is located approximately 360 km from the east coast of Grerernland and 500 km from the west coast of Greenland at (SaattutUummannaq). The nearest town is Ittoqqortoormiit, 460 km from the station.

BIODIVERSITY AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT: Summit Station is situated on the Greenland Ice Sheet. The climate is classified as polar, and the weather is highly variable and harsh. Typical daily maximum temperatures at Summit Camp are around −35 °C in winter (January) and −10 °C in summer (July). Winter minimum temperatures are typically about −45 °C and only rarely exceed −20 °C. Annual precipitation is about 3,000 mm. The station is situated on glacier ice and snow.

HISTORY AND FACILITIES: Summit Station was originally established in April 1989 in support of the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) deep ice coring effort. A ski-equipped C-130 from the New York Air National Guard performed an open snow landing near the site, bringing the put-in team and two navigation specialists. They located the exact location chosen for the GISP2 drilling site, established a camp, and laid out the runway. Subsequent flights brought in additional materials and personnel needed to build the station. Two major structures were planned and built: The Big House, an insulated panel building (housing a galley, common space, and office), elevated to minimize snow drifts; and a geodesic drill dome to house the deep drill. Extensive under-snow trenches were also constructed to house the core handling, processing, and storage facilities. Many smaller weatherports and tents were also erected as storage and shop areas, as well as sleeping quarters. These were erected and taken down each season. On 1 July 1 1993, the bedrock was reached.

Summit Station consists of the Big House (main building), Greenhouse (research building) with attached Berthing Module, a combined garage and generator building, Swiss Tower, the summertime Tent City, and storage buildings. The station can accommodate c. 55 scientists at a time. Originally Summit Station was only a summer station. Since early 2000’s the station had been manned year round with a winter population of 4-5 people.

HUMAN DIMENSION: There is no Inuit population at Summit Station. The Greenland coordination centre for the activities at Summit is situated in Kangerlussuaq, a small Greenland settlement mainly consisting of an airport and its support facilities.

ACCESS: During the summer months the camp is accessed via Kangerlussuaq Airport with C-130 Hercules aircraft which land on a 4,572 m by 60 m snow runway, which is prepared and regularly groomed for ski-equipped aircraft. Winter access is infrequent, using smaller, ski-equipped aircraft such as a Twin Otter.

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