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Summit Station: August Allen


Summit Station (72° 36' North, 38° 25' West), a research platform at the summit of the Greenland ice sheet, has been in operation since 1988. The National Science Foundation funds and manages the station in cooperation with the Government of Greenland. Located in the Northeast Greenland National Park at an elevation of 10,550 feet AMSL with a mean annual air temperature of -29°C, Summit Station has long challenged the fitness of visitors and the durability of equipment.

The station is composed of multiple separate structures that address the various needs of visitor comfort, scientific research, and station operations. The Big House provides a central hub for dining, conversation, and office space, and houses an indoor bathroom and laundry facility. Overnight accommodations are provided in several different buildings, depending on time of year, duration of visit, and station population. The Summit Mobile Garage houses the station’s redundant generator system and also offers a large bay for the maintenance of rolling stock and scientific balloon preparation. Waste heat from the generator system is used to heat buildings and to melt snow for the water supply. 

Summit Station is also equipped with two dedicated science facilities. The Mobile Science Facility (~525 sqft) is located 1000 feet to the east of the station center and offers flexible access for projects less sensitive to local disturbance. The Temporary Atmospheric Watch Observatory (~200 sqft) is located 2200 feet south of the station center, in the prevailing upwind direction, and is managed for clean science and equipped with an inlet mast. Both structures provided a heated interior, conditioned power through a UPS system, network access through a satellite link, and a rooftop deck for instrumentation. A climbable 15-meter tower is maintained for science activities and is set up with power and network connectivity. Smaller mobile structures and tents can provide temporary shelter for temporary science campaigns. And finally, the ice sheet region around Summit is managed to minimize local impacts and so support future off-station activities.

The following information provides a general overview of the station. Researchers proposing/planning to work at Summit should download the Summit Guide for more information.

  • Access and cargo – Visitors and science cargo typically travel to Summit Station via aircraft, landing on the 17,000 ft snow runway. The NY Air National Guard 109th Air Wing flies LC-130 aircraft to Summit on regularly scheduled missions during the summer months. Other ski-equipped aircraft and surface transport arrange travel to the station through prior agreement with the NSF.
  • Lodging – Visitors sleep in a variety of different hard-sided structures. Most occupants have a roommate.
  • Food – Summit Station is staffed with a chef, who prepares hot lunch and dinner six days a week. On Sunday, visitors prepare their own meals or help themselves to leftovers. A self-service breakfast area is provided.
  • Medical Services – Battelle ARO contracts with a medical provider to operate a telemedicine phone line, to maintain a medical clinic at the station, and in summer months, to staff the clinic with an on-site paramedic who provides support for emergency and non-emergency medical issues.
  • Altitude Sickness – For additional altitude advice, download our High Altitude Illness Information Sheet.
  • Communications – Summit Station offers a network connection to the offsite work through a satellite link. Email, data transfers, limited web access, and telephone service are available to researchers and staff. Iridium satellite phones provide a backup and option for communication when traveling away from the station. Inbound calls to Summit are possible.
  • Webcam – Current conditions can be observed via the Summit Station webcam.
  • Additional Information – Resources on current and historic science activities at the site are available at the Greenland Environmental Observatory website.