Beneficiaries and their projects

Teresa Jorge, PhD student, ETHZ In flight testing of Peltier Cooled Frost point Hygrometer under Polar Tropospheric and Stratospheric conditions from Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard
Jacqueline Huber,
PhD student, University of Zurich
Elevation changes of Greenland’s peripheral glaciers
Evan Miles, PhD, WSL Accumulation via Borehole teLeviewing at high Elevation (ABLE): proof of concept
Alfonso Ferrone,
PhD student, EPFL
Summer campaign at “Princess Elisabeth Antarctica” research station, in the Dronning Maud Land region of East-Antarctica
Vaios Moschos,
PhD student, PSI
Filter sampling to identify the sources and processing of atmospheric organic aerosols in the Siberian Arctic
Tobias Erhardt, PhD, University of Bern Shallow ice core drilling campaign in Northeast Greenland

Field trips and projects

Teresa Jorge

Project: In flight testing of Peltier Cooled Frost point Hygrometer under Polar Tropospheric and Stratospheric conditions from Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard

Keywords: Water Vapor, Instrument Development, Balloon-Borne Research, Upper Troposphere, Lower Stratosphere, Polar Region, Climate Change.


Water is an important component of Earth's atmosphere – it can exist in three phases: vapour, water and ice, sometimes even simultaneously. Its role in clouds, chemistry and radiative properties make it also very relevant for climate and hence climate change. Water vapour is measured and monitored with different techniques and from different platforms, such as with operational radiosondes and with satellites. Balloon-Borne Frost point Hygrometers are an important part of the Earth's water vapour monitoring system especially in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. They provide a reference system for other techniques for example for radiosondes because of their better accuracy and satellites because of better vertical resolution. With our project we will ensure the continuation of this measurement technique as the future of the instrument used presently is compromised by the ban of the used cryogenic liquid under the Montreal Protocol. An essential task of the development of the new instrument is in-flight testing and comparison with the present instrument in polar tropospheric and stratospheric conditions.

Jacqueline Huber

Project: Elevation changes of Greenland’s peripheral glaciers

Keywords: Glaciers, elevation change, Greenland, TanDEM-X, radar penetration.


A lot of ice is stored in the glaciers of Greenland that are separate from the ice sheet. However, our knowledge on the past evolution of the volume of these glaciers is limited. Space and airborne systems can provide data that reproduces the Earth’s surface through so-called digital elevation models (DEMs). By comparing two of them representing two points in time, we can assess how the elevation and volume of the glaciers changed within this timespan. In this project, we assess the elevation change from 1985 to 2012 of glaciers in west-central Greenland using among others, data from the TanDEM-X mission measuring the surface around 2012. The TanDEM-X mission was launched in 2010 and provides accurate high resolution DEMs. It scans the earth surface with a radar beam in a frequency range that can penetrate through snow and firn laying on top of the glacier. Consequently, the resulting DEM does not represent the actual surface of a glacier but a surface that is somewhat lower. This results in an error when estimating elevation changes. During her fieldwork in spring 2020 on a glacier in northern Greenland, close to the town of Qaanaaq, Jacqueline wants to identify the glacier’s exact surface as well as the snow/firn characteristic. The comparison of these in situ measurements with a DEM of the TanDEM-X mission acquired at the same time enables to identify how snow/firn properties influence the radar penetration. The results will advance our understanding of the influence of radar penetration on glaciers and improve the assessment of elevation changes of Greenlandic glaciers.

Evan Miles

Project: Accumulation via Borehole teLeviewing at high Elevation (ABLE): proof of concept

Keywords: glacier accumulation, boreholes, high elevation.


Due to the high elevation (>6000 m.a.s.l.) of glacier accumulation areas in the Himalaya, there are very few direct observations of mass accumulation, which is a major gap for understanding of the glaciers’ response to climate change. This project will test a method to measure several decades of historic snowfall and mass accumulation for one study site in a short-duration field season. The method uses a geophysical camera system to determine ice density at millimeter-increments based on the optical properties of ice. Evan and his colleagues will drill and analyze two shallow ice cores (20 m) at a high-elevation site in Nepal, then survey the boreholes with our camera, enabling them to separately calibrate and validate the method. Evan will  then analyze the ice density record to determine several decades of snow accumulation rates for this initial study site. Demonstration of this method will enable determination of historic accumulation rates for other glaciers throughout the region. These data will radically improve the meteorological parameterization of numerical models aimed at forecasting how glaciers across the Himalaya will evolve in future decades.

Alfonso Ferrone

Project: Summer campaign at “Princess Elisabeth Antarctica” research station, in the Dronning Maud Land region of East-Antarctica

Keywords: Antarctic precipitation, microphysics, remote sensing.


The proposed field trip is a measurement campaign at Princess Elisabeth Antarctica, a Belgian scientific base in East-Antarctica. The goal of this campaign is the study of precipitation at this specific location, in between the plateau and the coastline. Emphasis will be given to the characterization of riming: the growth of ice crystals and snowflakes by collection of supercooled liquid water droplets from the clouds. Due to the presence of mountains of almost 3000 m of altitude within a 25 km radius of the station, it will be particularly relevant to examine the effects of the complex orography on clouds and snowfall in the area. The importance of this study lies in the major role that precipitation plays in the ice sheet mass balance of Antarctica, which, for its deep links to sea level change, is one of the crucial topics in the study of climate change.

The “SnowPixel”, a prototype ground-based sensor, will be deployed at the base and it will be used for characterizing the mass properties of the local precipitation. It will be collocated with the Multi Angle Snowflake Camera, which will provide us with the complementary geometrical properties of crystals and snowflakes. Additionally, a cloud and a scanning precipitation radar system will allow the monitoring of clouds and snowfall with a larger spatial coverage, above the base and in its interaction with the nearby orography. More generally, these instruments will contribute to the collection of an unprecedented dataset in the inland region of East-Antarctica where only limited observations are currently available.

Vaios Moschos

Project: Filter sampling to identify the sources and processing of atmospheric organic aerosols in the Siberian Arctic

Keywords: East Siberia, tundra, boreal forest, climate change, atmospheric organic aerosols, high-resolution mass spectrometry, atmosphere-land-ocean-cryosphere interactions.


Arctic regions warm more rapidly than other places on Earth affecting the global climate system in addition to local livelihoods. The net warming is related to emissions of both long-lived greenhouse gases which trap terrestrial radiation and short-lived climate-forcing pollutants including aerosols (liquid or solid particles suspended in the atmosphere). These aerosols impact climate via aerosol-radiation interaction (ari) and aerosol-cloud interaction (aci). Organic carbon (OC) comprises a major aerosol fraction around the globe, but its chemical composition and corresponding sources remain largely unexplored in the Arctic. This component is becoming increasingly important in a warming Arctic, through both natural (e.g., wildfires) and anthropogenic (e.g., shipping) contributions. However, the extreme environments and geopolitical constraints hinder the establishment and maintenance of a high quality, spatially-resolved aerosol monitoring network at high latitudes, especially in the vast Russian Arctic.

The proposed field trip will be realized in collaboration with the Faculty of Geography of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, who organize fieldwork at various Siberian Arctic river sites. Vaios will set up an atmospheric sampler to collect aerosols at the Northeast Science Station located in Chersky, Russia, for a period of one year. Subsequent integration of state-of-the-art high-resolution mass spectrometry with advanced statistical data analyses will allow to determine the time series of the source contributions to total particulate OC mass and define the chemical fingerprint of the different organic aerosol types for the first time in the continental Russian (High) Arctic. The comparison of these Siberian results to other locations across the Arctic, within a collaborative network of atmospheric aerosol scientists led by the Paul Scherrer Institute, will elucidate the role of different emission sources to organic aerosol in the most climate change sensitive region worldwide.

Tobias Erhardt

Project: Shallow ice core drilling campaign in Northeast Greenland

Keywords: climate reconstruction, proxy understanding, ice core, aerosols.


Ice cores from the polar regions have been used to reconstruct a wealth of climate information over the past centuries and millennia. However, on shorter time scales the usefulness of climate records from ice cores is limited due to the redistribution of snow on the surface of ice sheets. This inherently hinders their interpretation on timescales of inter-annual and possibly decadal variability. To gauge the influence of the snow distribution on the climate records and our ability to use them to investigate decadal climate variability is ultimately the goal of the project that is started with the shallow drilling campaign in North East Greenland. During the campaign, at least one shallow core covering the past three to four hundred years will be retrieved. The ice core will then be analyzed at the University if Bern using state-of-the-art methods. The resulting records will be pooled with results from other cores at the same location to investigate their signal content and to yield a robust reconstruction of inter-annual and decadal climate variability in Northeast Greenland and the Northern Hemisphere.