Camp Century was a United States military installation buried under the northwestern tip of the Greenland ice sheet. It was active from 1959 and quickly dismantled in 1967. In 1960, Camp Century received it’s electrical and heat energy from a Portable Medium-sized nuclear reactor, starting operations on October 3, 1960. It ceased operations the next year when Camp Century shifted operations to summer only. Camp Century was used for a wide array of experiments, from using the ice for fuel storage to determining if it was feasible to have a city under the ice. When Camp Century was abandoned, the Army left behind equipment, petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL), and other materials.

In the summer of 2017, scientists at the Geology Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), lead by Project Manager William Colgen, headed up a project to understand the climate and snow cover at Camp Century (http://campcenturyclimate.dk/ccc). The nuclear material, POL, and other leftovers from Camp Century has scientists wanting to understand more of how glacial and water flows under the ice might transport these toxic materials. The report conclusion was the snow will continue to accumulate on top of Camp Century and meltwater will not reach the toxic debris field – by the year 2100, it will be buried under 190 feet to 209 feet of ice and snow. Read more about the project and data at http://campcenturyclimate.dk/ccc.

Ice penetrating radar showing Camp Century tunnel arches. Image: GEUS, http://campcenturyclimate.dk/ccc/news/2019_radarreport.html

Research links from the project include:

Ice-penetrating radar survey of the subsurface debris field at Camp Century, Greenland – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165232X18304671?via%3Dihub

https://dataverse01.geus.dk/dataverse/campcenturyclimate

Firn Evolution at Camp Century, Greenland: 1966–2100 – https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feart.2021.578978/full

Initial field activities of the Camp Century Climate Monitoring Programme in Greenland – https://geusbulletin.org/index.php/geusb/article/view/4347

New programme for climate monitoring at Camp Century, Greenland – https://geusbulletin.org/index.php/geusb/article/view/4415