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General Information

Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat in Greenlandic) is the world’s largest island with three-quarters of the island covered by a permanent ice sheet. It is the least-populous land mass outside of Antarctica, with isolated population centers due to the absence of a connective road system. These factors, combined with the harsh environmental and seasonal conditions, make navigating the remote country logistically demanding. Executing field research in Greenland provides challenges due to travel distances, lack of infrastructure, limited resources, environmental risks, foreign permitting, custom regulations, language barriers, currency difference, and the requirement to coordinate with agencies ranging from the Government of Greenland (GoG) to Department of Defense (DoD) sections such as the Air National Guard (ANG) and the United States Air Force.

The Battelle ARO team provides support to researchers via acute knowledge of the environmental conditions, the limited transport options, political nuances, and the local challenges, which translates into thorough planning efforts and realistic scheduling for NSF funded field teams.

Greenland Process Steps

Steps for executing your field season



During this process, pIease work with Battelle ARO to develop a proposed logistics plan and review the Suggested Reading by NSF. The PI should also investigate all costs, including permitting and outreach, that need to be included in their proposal submission. Additional information can be found on our Proposal Estimate Support page.


Battelle ARO securely saves your project record in our system. Records outline your science objectives, along with logistics plans for your fieldwork. If your proposal is recommended for award, the PI reviews the record and the project summary is provided to NSF.


There are several steps in planning for a successful field season. Teams members should sign up for all applicable Field safety training, acquire all needed permits, review interaction plans and work with your assigned Project Manager to finalize all planning to safely and efficiently execute your fieldwork.


Following the plan developed at the pre-fieldwork planning stage, PIs conduct fieldwork according to the planned scope and budget. Communicate any changes or deviations to your Project Manager and they will determine next steps.


Reporting incidents and near misses is integral to NSF's risk management program. Lessons learned are considered anonymously to make improvements in program safety. Report incidents to your Project Manager, via the Gateway, or by contacting NSF directly.

Battelle ARO Greenland Hubs


Skiway training facility for the New York Air National Guard 109th Air Wing – Located at 66° 29′ North, 46° 17′ West.




Formerly known as Sondestromfjord, this community is the base of Battelle ARO operations in Greenland. Located at 67° North, 50° 43′ West.




Ilulissat (formerly Jakobshaven) is a town in the Qaasuitsup municipality of western Greenland, about 350 km (220 miles) north of the Arctic Circle in Disko Bay.




At an elevation of 10,530 feet, Summit Station is located at 72° 36′ North, 38° 25′ West on the summit of the Greenland ice sheet.



PITUFFIK SPACE BASE (formerly Thule Air Base)

Pituffik Space Base (formerly Thule Air Base) is located 900 miles South of the North Pole at 76° 32′ North, 68° 50′ West. Proper clearances must be obtained for accessing Pituffik.




The East Greenland Ice core Project (EGRIP) site is an international field camp 200 km from the ice divide.




Remote research sites on the ice sheet, isolated villages, coastal tundra, and surrounding areas accessed by aircraft, foot, or traverse make up the majority of the funded research groups in Greenland.


Flowers at sunset


Photo by: Kevin Pettway
Man standing in front of large plane


Photo by: Kevin Pettway
Cargo being unloaded from plane


Photo by: Austin Danicic
People disembarking plane


Photo by: Kelly Cheek
Antlers at sunset


Photo by: Kevin Pettway

Developing Your Greenland Field Plan

Greenland Field Gear Allocations

Battelle ARO can provide most equipment required to conduct field research. To reduce costs, researchers are encouraged to request use of NSF owned field equipment in the proposal and funded phases of their project. Equipment is constantly inspected for quality assurance.  Battelle ARO staff can provide training on how to set-up and use any piece of equipment that is available.  Once funded, your project will gain access to the complete list of gear available; however, the inventory of available equipment may include:

The majority of field party equipment is stored in NSF-leased warehouses in Kangerlussuaq, but can be shipped to any area on the island if a project does not pass through Kangerlussuaq.  Contact your Battelle ARO PM or the Greenland Operations Manager for more information.


Photo by: Jason Briner


Science party members are generally responsible for their own cold weather and field clothing.

Before departing, the team tries on cold weather gear to ensure proper fit and full inventory. 

Fabrics to consider are Polar Plus Fleece, Polypropylene, Capilene, wool, and silk. Avoid cotton fabrics and jeans for remote field site use. Keep in mind that rain is a normal weather condition in Alaska. Be aware that during the summer season (May through September) the temperature can fluctuate between 10 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit depending upon the location.

Additionally, researchers should consider mosquito season (late May - early September), and bringing protective "bug shirts"  and insect repellent.

For a general list of cold weather gear, review the recommendations below.

Recommended Cold Weather Gear:

Recommended Personal Gear:

Photo by: Tracy Dahl
Photo by: Kevin Pettway

Greenland Construction & Engineering Support

Battelle ARO construction staff have a seasonal presence at most of the Arctic hubs (Kangerlussuaq, Summit Station) to attend to operational maintenance and facility upgrade projects.   Researchers can benefit from Battelle ARO expertise whether they need a special building designed for an instrument or simply need custom boxes made for retrograde of rock samples.  Battelle ARO staff are experienced in everything from designing and building more robust camps to the typical tent set up.

Battelle ARO support services may include:

Please reach out to your Battelle ARO PM or the Construction manager for more information.

Remote Power Systems

The Battelle ARO team has extensive experience with design, installation, operation and maintenance in all power technology areas: engine (reciprocating diesel & microturbine), fuel cell, hydroelectric, photovoltaic, storage/rechargeable batteries, and wind turbine generators (WTG).

Battelle ARO team is experienced in:

Battelle ARO can design power systems to meet the specific needs of researchers and projects whether it is a quickly deployed renewable energy based portable power systems or a long-term power systems designed to minimize impacts to the research project through the use of clean renewable energy and strategic placement so as not to influence normal snow accumulation patterns.  Please reach out to your Battelle ARO PM or the Construction Manager for more information. 

Photo by: Roy Stehle

Greenland Communications

Research work in remote locations relies on good communications and reliable technology for safe operation, field coordination, and data transmittal. Participants often need to communicate activities, weather data, and safety status; transfer raw data; and remotely monitor and operate equipment.

Modern researchers are increasing the complexity of field-based science and looking to communication technologies to enable mobile computing, real-time or near-real-time data transmission, and remote monitoring.

The Battelle ARO team facilitates Arctic field communications by offering:

For further information on communications gear available contact your Battelle ARO PM or PFS ITC manager.

Photo by: Katrine Gorham

Greenland Air and Vessel Chartering

Air Operations

The Battelle ARO team will begin aviation support analysis in the proposal planning process using a requirements-based approach to identify logistics feasibility, type of aircraft needed, and preliminary risk analysis. Once funded, Battelle ARO PMs and regional operations staff will provide expertise in all the nuances required to make even the most complicated of aviation plans achievable.

Battelle ARO staff have experience in the following:

Vessel Operations

Similar to contracting aircraft, Battelle’s procurement and science planning teams maintain a directory of potential research vessels that incorporate science capabilities, port requirements, contact information and vessel specifications. This directory will be referenced to expedite analysis of available vessels meeting the science and timeframes requirements, while simultaneously expediting the procurement selection process. Battelle ARO science PMs have experience facilitating engagement between research projects and coastal communities to deconflict subsistence, wildlife, or community concerns. Existing relationships and communications assure NSF-funded cruises are abiding by cultural, permitting, and wildlife mandates. The Battelle ARO team can provision marine mammal and community observers and facilitate outreach requirements and post-cruise reporting to ensure compliance at the researcher level. In addition to providing expertise about research vessels, Battelle ARO PMs are experts in sending cargo by vessel, which is a cost effective way to reach many locations in the Arctic.

Photo by: Jessy Jenkins

Fuel Handling

Safe Fuel Handling Procedures for Field Personnel
All researchers using fuel at a field site must use containment for all fuel and equipment that uses fuel. Researchers should be aware of how to clean up a spill, and how to use a spill response kit.

Containment Systems
Battelle ARO can provide researchers with spill containment equipment and spill response kits for Battelle ARO issued equipment. Researchers should be prepared to provide their own resources for any non NSF equipment they are taking into the field that uses fuel.

Cleaning Up a Spill
Any amount of hazardous material spilled on the ground at a field location must be cleaned up. All researchers going to a field site should realize the liability they are assuming for safe fuel handling practice. The researcher and his/her institution will be responsible for any spills and remediation of spills at a field site.

How to Remediate a Small Spill

  1. Contain the spilled material.
  2. If feasible and safe, absorb the spilled material using absorbents from local spill kits or, if the spill is on snow, shovel the snow up and place in plastic bags or a drum to be disposed of off-site. On soil, shovel the contaminated material into a bag or drum for disposal.

For Large Spills
If a large spill occurs, the researcher should notify Battelle ARO staff and the local authority responsible for the land on which the spill occurs (i.e., BLM, NPS) immediately for assistance.

Greenland Travel Support

Battelle ARO provides research teams in the Arctic with various means of travel support.  Work with your Battelle ARO PM to outline your requirements so that the correct transportation mode can be built into your support plan.  Examples of travel support consist of:

Greenland Cargo and Sample Coordination

The Battelle ARO team recognizes the importance of getting the gear required to complete your science to/from the field safely. Additionally, we understand the absolute requirement to maintain sample integrity during transport to home institutions or sample repositories such as the National Ice Core Laboratory.  We aim to fully understand and document your requirements while forming our logistics plan to get your items safety to/from the Arctic.

Battelle ARO support may include:

Contact us for additional questions.

Photo by: Robin Larocca