A month on the Greenland ice sheet: Swansea scientist studies Greenland's role in rising sea-levels

Professor Siwan Davies, a world-leading climate change expert from Swansea University, will spend the next four weeks with a team of researchers at an international science station on the Greenland ice sheet, where they will drill deep into the ice to understand climate history.

The aim of The East Greenland Ice-core Project (EastGRIP) is to drill an ice core 2,550 meters through the ice sheet to the bottom of the ice sheet, through the north-east Greenland ice stream. Ice streams are responsible for draining a significant fraction of the ice from the Greenland ice sheet, and the researchers aim to gain new and fundamental information on ice stream dynamics, thereby improving the understanding of how ice streams will contribute to future sea-level change.

The drilled core will also provide a new record of past climatic conditions from the north-eastern part of the Greenland ice sheet. Working for 11 hours a day, Professor Davies, who is a familiar face to S4C viewers as the presenter of Her yr Hinsawdd, will be part of the team that cuts and prepares the drilled ice core, ready for distribution to researchers at numerous laboratories worldwide to piece together a detailed history of climate over the last 25,000 years. The ice will be analysed for greenhouse gases, chemical composition, dust content and Professor Davies will focus on the volcanic ash from ancient eruptions preserved in the ice. The ash will help date the ice-core record.

Yr Athro Siwan Davies

The project is led by the Centre for Ice and Climate, Denmark with air support carried out by US ski-equipped Hercules aircraft managed through the US Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation.

Professor Davies said: “It’s a huge privilege to contribute to this project and I’m excited to experience life in this remote corner of Greenland. The camp itself has been built especially for this work and it’s a very impressive set-up. The working day will be long where temperatures are likely to range between -20 and -10 °C, and the 24 hours of daylight at this high latitude may cause some sleep problems. It’s a unique experience! I’m looking forward to meet the researchers, from all over the world, who I will live and work alongside for the next month. The camaraderie is what makes this experience so special!”

Professor Davies will be documenting her trip on Twitter: @siwanmdavies