Ice Core Science

In this section you can learn more about the science conducted at EastGRIP.

Ice cores - Revealing secrets of past climate

Video from UiB - Universitetet i Bergen.

Ice core drilling

Ice core drilling in Greenland was initiated in 1955 and since then numerous of short ice cores and several deep ice cores have been retrieved from the Greenland Ice Sheet. At EastGRIP we aim to drill an ice core through more than 2550m of ice.

The ice core can provide us with a range of information both on the dynamics of the ice (how the ice 'behaves') and on past climate (temperature, greenhouse gas concentration, vulcanic eruptions etc.).

Below you can click on the interactive map to learn more about how we drill the ice core, the following (laboratory) analyzes and the knowledge that can be derived from the measurements.

In addition to drilling the main ice core through an ice sheet measuring more than 2500m, a range of other projects and measurements are also conducted at the site, this including drilling of short ice cores (shallow drilling), a range of measurements on the surface of the snow (e.g. snow accumulation, vapour and gas content and radiation), drone measurements, radar measurements and much more.

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Associated projects 2019

Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Niels Bohr Institute & Uni. Of Manitoba

When an ice core has been drilled there is still information to be gained by studying the borehole itself. A instrument measuring the geometry of the borehole and the temperature of the surrounding ice is lowered into the borehole. The changes in the shape of the borehole since the ice core was drilled give information on the flow of the ice, and the measured temperatures reveal the past temperatures at the site.

The A team of two people was flown to NEEM to perform a logging of the NEEM borehole. On May 16 Polar 5 (AWI) took off with Dorthe and Sepp, heading for the old NEEM site. After assisting Dorthe and Sepp setting up equipment and camp, the Polar 5 crew returned to EGRIP. This was the first time since 2015 the NEEM site was manned. The borelogging was not without setbacks; On May 17 Dorthe and Sepp reported to camp that the NEEM bore hole had a block some 100 m down. Saturday (May 18), Trevor and Steff flew to NEEM with bore hole camera and reaming equipment. After 5 hours, the ice blockage was removed and bore hole logging continued, and Trevor and Steff returned to EGRIP. Logging continued throughout the evening and however, the next afternoon, the logger got stuck at a very narrow point in the bore hole at 2433m depth. The crew managed to get the logger un-stuck, and logging was completed in the evening.

Trevor, Dorthe and Steff at the NEEM borehole where the logger is now ready to be deployed.
At NEEM, Dorthe waves at Polar 5 as they pull in with Steff and Trevor and reaming equipment to remove an ice blockage that hinders borehole logging.
Christine Hvidberg and Aslak Grinsted, Niels Bohr Institute

GPS measurements will be used to provide 6 year long records 2015-2020 of surface movement at EGRIP and along NEGIS (The NorthEast Greenland Ice Stream). In 2015, a strain net of 17 GPS poles were established at EGRIP and their 3D positions were measured (latitude, longitude, height). These poles were re-measured in 2017 and 2018 and will be measured again in 2019. Map of the strain net at EGRIP showing the 17 poles established in 2015 (red crosses) and the two permanent GPS stations (blue circles). Only the permanent station close to the EGRIP camp was established in 2015. The EGRIP camp is indicated by the black cross. The background shows surface velocity (Imgraft/Grinsted)

Maria Hörhold and Daniel Steinhage, AWI)

An extensive shallow drilling program is planned in NE Greenland with the aim of extending existing shallow core records of past AWI ice drilling traverses in NE Greenland up to present time. A few ice cores from upstream of EGRIP are also planned. The operation is airborne, using the AWI Basler Polar 5.

May 11-13 Polar 5 flew three times from Kangerlussuaq to EGRIP (and back) with cargo and new members of the EGRIP team and after finishing testing the drill all drilling equipment was finally stowed on the plane May 16. May 17 the first the AWI team successfully completed a shallow drilling 200 km upstream from EGRIP. In the picture you see team members Johannes and Iben with ice core showing the 1889 meltlayer at B16, 200km from EGRIP. Several shallow cores were then drilled on various locations. The map below shows the sites of drilling.

Johannes and Iben with ice core showing the 1889 meltlayer at B16, 200km from EGRIP.

However, the last planned flight mission on May 29 did not go as expected. Weather was really nice so the AWI team took off to drill a shallow core and do a p-RES survey at a point 121 km upstream from EGRIP. Quite unexpectedly, they returned an hour later. They couldn’t land at the site due to crevasses. If you take a look at your Greenland map (or Google Earth for that matter) and plot in the position given below, it is quite remarkable to find crevasses that far into the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Click on the image to open the map (will redirect you to Google Maps)

Main responsible: Hans Christian Steen-Larsen ( and Maria Hoerhold (

A range of measurements performed within three subject fields

  1. Snow-air water vapor exchange
  2. Snow surface and snow pack properties
  3. Accumulation and precipitation isotope studies

Tour with a polar scientist on the Greenland ice sheet

Follow the researcher Anne-Katrine Faber on a tour at her workplace at EastGRIP camp on the Greenland Ice Sheet. As part of the SNOWISO project she does fieldwork here to understand how climate information is stored in the ice. The goal is to make it possible to reveal more details about past climate changes from ice cores.

The video is also available in 360 view.

Prasad Gogineni, University of Alabama

Four to seven people from the University of Alabama and AWI will test a new prototype ice deep sounder in the EGRIP area from mid July to the end of season in August. The radar assembly will be pulled by a Pistenbuly with transmit and receive antennas resting on inflated cushions (balloons).

Elizabeth Bagshaw, University of Cardiff

For the Cryoegg Project scientists are creating a 'Cryoegg', a small, wireless sensor that can measure the temperature, pressure and chemistry of the meltwater underneath the ice. The project is funded by the UK Engineering and Physical SciencesResearch Council, and harnesses communications engineering methods to design a bespoke subglacial sensor for fast flowing ice

Magnetotelluric Analysis for Greenland and Postglacial Isostatic Evolution - Clint Conrad, University of Oslo

MAGPIE The MAGPIE project began in April 2019 with funding from Forskningsrådet, which is the Research Council of Norway. The ultimate goal of the project is to develop better estimates for current and recent melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Follow their progress on the MAGPIE project website.

Geophysics research on the Greenland Ice Sheet

Follow the researcher Kate Selway carrying out research at the EastGRIP camp on the Greenland Ice Sheet in the summer of 2019, studying the ice sheet and the underlying Earth to improve models of ice sheet behaviour and sea level rise.

Christine Hvidberg, Niels Bohr Institute

An autonomous GPS based vehicle for making automatic snow surface measurements is under development and will be tested at EGRIP by two people mid-July to beginning of August. Of special interest is testing whether a micro wind turbine will be a feasible source of energy.

Trine Dahl-Jensen and Tine B. Larsen, Geologiscal Survey of Greenland and Denmark - GEUS

Starting in 2000, the seismological groups at KMS and GEUS – now all at GEUS – have placed earthquake seismic stations at over 20 sites in Greenland, both on the coast and on the ice sheet. They record globally occurring earthquakes, and use the data to investigate the local structure beneath and between the stations. A station was placed placed at EGRIP in a garage tent in 2015, and in 2016 the station was moved to the newly constructed core buffer trench. The station is solar/battery powered and collects data onto a memory chip. Once a year the memory chip is exchanged and the station is maintained.

Koni Steffen, ETH Zürich, CIRES Colorado

During the annual maintenance of the Automated Weather Stations in N-Greenland, the EGRIP camp will be re-fuelling station and base for the PARCA team for several days in May. PARCA uses a Twin Otter air craft.

The GLISN project

The GLISN network operates several permanent seismic stations on the Greenland ice sheet, e.g. at Summit and at the NEEM site. Normally, during the annual maintenance of the sites, the team uses EGRIP as a re-fuelling and over-night stop. However, in 2019 no maintenance is planned except for the maintenance provided by the borehole logging team at NEEM.

Popular scientific articles about EGRIP camp

Ice core drilling camp on the Greenland Ice Sheet

For the 2017 field season Anne-Katrine Faber (University of Bergen) joined the EGRIP camp work. Read more about her stay at EGRIP in the article from the Geografisk Orientering Magazine (article in Danish).

Secrets of the Ice

For the 2018 field season Prof Ilka Weikusat (University of Tuebingen and AWI), 3 Uni Tuebingen-Alumni (Nico, Julien, Sonja) + 2 more Uni Tuebingen co-affiliates (Daniela, Jan E.) joined the EGRIP camp work. Read more about their stay at EGRIP in the article from the Uni Magazin (article starts on page 15 of the pdf).

Through the Greenland Ice Stream

Popular scientific paper about the EastGRIP project and drilling through an ice stream. Read more in the paper from the journal Priroda Nature (in Russian).