In 2016, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) participated
in a multi-nation study that presented regional climate model simulations that
suggested the ice-sheet surface mass balance at Camp Century may change from
net accumulation to net ablation by year 2100 under the UN Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) RCP8.5 “business-as-usual” climate scenario.
The study suggested that the assumption that the abandoned base would be preserved for eternity by perpetually accumulating snowfall was no longer valid under the full range of IPCC climate pathways.
Read the scientific article ‘The abandoned ice sheet base at Camp Century, Greenland, in a warming climate’ by Colgan et al. in Geophysical Research Letters, 2016 here
In agreement with the Government of Greenland the Government of Denmark then established a programme in 2017 for long-term climate monitoring at Camp Century. The Camp Century Climate Monitoring Programme is led by GEUS and has four main goals:
- To continuously monitor relevant climate variables, including the depth to which meltwater percolates, at the Camp Century site. This goal will be accomplished by installing an automated weather station that measures standard climatological variables controlling meltwater production. Station measurements will be supplemented by thermistor strings to monitor deep firn temperatures, as well as observations of firn density and compaction profiles.
- To regularly update annual likelihoods of meltwater interacting with abandoned materials at the Camp Century site over the next century. This goal will be accomplished by using a physically-based computer model that simulates meltwater percolation and firn evolution. This model will be forced by IPCC climate pathways and continuously improved using in situ observations, as well as novel parameterizations from community models.
- To map the estimated spatial extent and vertical depth of abandoned wastes across the Camp Century site. This goal will be accomplished by using ice-penetrating radar and global positioning system measurements to map the Camp Century debris field during a one-time field campaign. Delineating the present-day location of key infrastructure features will enable georeferencing of historical site maps.
- To publicly report all findings from the Camp Century Climate Monitoring Programme in a timely manner. This goal will be accomplished by streaming the data collected by sensors deployed at Camp Century in near-real-time, and regularly publishing GEUS reports and papers in open-access peer-reviewed journals.
The Camp Century Climate Monitoring Programme undertakes regular fieldwork at Camp Century to deploy and maintain automated climate and firn sensors, as well as collect ice-penetrating radar and firn core observations. These measurements will be available in near-real-time here. The analysis of climate measurements, including firn temperatures, as well as numerical modelling of future meltwater percolation depths, is ongoing.
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