Fiber optic cables transmit Antarctic Ocean data

By on January 10, 2012

A University of Nevada researcher and colleagues are using innovative fiber optic cable to measure temperatures in and under the Antarctic ice shelf.  The 800 meters of cable dropped through 200 meters of solid ice will relay never-before seen data on currents and temperatures in the Antarctic Ocean. Lead researcher Scott Tyler receives data eight times a day along with photos of the equipment from a camera the team installed on a mount. The team hopes that the wind and solar powered system can withstand a year of harsh Antarctic weather before they return for the next field season.

Ice shelves are floating sheets of ice connected to a land mass. In west Antarctica, they support large glaciers. If the ice shelves were to melt due to warming ocean water, the glaciers could collapse into the ocean, creating a worldwide rise in sea level.

The melting of the ice shelves from below by warmer ocean water represents a critical unknown in the assessment of Antarctic ice sheet collapse and the potential for very rapid sea level rise around the world. This will allow us to assess the potential for collapse,
-Tyler explained to Nevada Today.


Image credit: NASA

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