Photo: Private
Margareta Hansson (in read) participating in ice drilling in Greenland.

The East Greenland Ice-core Project (EGRIP), a large-scale research undertaking, was launched in order to gather more information about Greenland’s continental ice sheet, both its history and what is happening now that it is melting more rapidly due to the warmer climate. The project is coordinated by the Centre for Ice and Climate in Denmark in close collaboration with the American polar research programme at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Many collaborators from across the world are participating, including Stockholm University. The deep drilling has already been under way for three summer seasons. This year will be no exception. 

Photo: Malin Stenberg de Serves
Professor Margareta Hansson

Stockholm professor head of drilling

Margareta Hansson, Professor in Environmental Science specialising in physical geography and quaternary geology at Stockholm University, is the Chief Scientist for the expedition in June and will be coordinating all research activities in the field. The researchers will perform multiple analyses on the ice core as soon as it has been drilled, and they will divide up the ice into smaller samples which will then be packed and shipped to laboratories around the world. In addition to the drilling, several projects are being conducted on the surface to study the movements of the ice.

The drilling is being done in the middle of a rapidly flowing ice stream, one of the main contributing factors to the reduction in the mass of Greenland’s ice sheet. As such, the retrieved ice core can be used to study the ice dynamics in these ice streams, the movement of which is ever increasing as temperatures rise – which in turn leads to a shrinking of the ice sheet and rising sea levels.

“The ice core provides us with a high-definition time series in terms of climate and the content of greenhouse gases and aerosols in the atmosphere for the past 25,000 years,” says Margareta Hansson.

Drilling is estimated to be completed in 2020

Upon returning from Greenland, she and other researchers will continue working on analyses and reviewing the data secured by the researchers from their measurements in the field. It is work that will take many years to complete. The research team estimates that the drilling will reach the bedrock below the ice next summer.

What results are you hoping for from the expedition?
“Our goal is to obtain more information regarding the current changes occurring in Greenland as a result of global warming. We are all affected by these changes due to the rising sea levels, not just in the future, but right now.”

Margareta Hansson is a veteran in this field; this is her tenth expedition of this nature to Greenland or Antarctica.

Learn more about the research expedition and follow them on EastGRIP’s website.