As predicted, the early melting in Greenland is causing problems for the scientists on the ground. Three years of snow accumulation since the big 2012 melt season, have not added significant buffering capacity to the firn – basically there is one thin layer of snow to buffer the meltwater. Once that layer is gone, it’s just bare ice, which indicates that the impending 2016 melt will very likely surpass the record breaking melt that occurred in 2012, which is very concerning.
At temperatures hovering just around freezing, the team attempted to drill a couple of 16 m (52.5 ft) ice cores yesterday, but the drills warmed up enough to cause melting and one got stuck in the ice below at ~3 m (~9.5 ft) – which they were eventually able to retrieve – and the other was much deeper, at ~8 m (~26 ft). After trying all afternoon, the second barrel still wouldn’t budge. They tried “fishing” it out with aircraft cable pulled by snowmobile, which ended up snapping the cable. The plan for tomorrow is to go into full-on “Operation Drill Rescue” pulling out all the stops!
UPDATE: After a phone-in from the field earlier this afternoon, it was reported that the team was successful in retrieving the buried drill core earlier this morning by pouring 30 gallons of boiling water down the hole to melt the surrounding snow and ice! GO TEAM!