Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Scientist to measure sea ice using underwater vehicle

Canterbury scientist to measure sea ice using underwater vehicle

July 16, 2014

A University of Canterbury scientist is measuring the thickness and biological productivity of Antarctic sea ice using a remote underwater vehicle to understand its role in ocean circulation and the functioning of polar ecosystems.

Professor Ian Hawes from Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury, has received $85,000 in New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute funding to develop a new approach to sea ice research that will allow monitoring of thickness and biological productivity of the polar sea ice over long distances and with fine resolution this summer. Other than spot drilling, measuring sea ice has been extremely difficult because of its inaccessibility.

``Our cutting-edge project will produce accurate information on sea ice thickness and the biomass of algae growing in the ice, information which is of global significance for better understanding linkages between ice dynamics, ecosystems and climate change.

``Developing new ways of automated measurement is important as, while it is a critical part of the global climate, it is difficult to sample. Sea ice comes in two types, pack ice and fast ice. Fast ice is attached to land and is safe to access and drill holes for only part of the year. Pack ice is not attached to land but occurs as broken up floes that can only be accessed by some ships.

``This has put major limitations on where we can sample and how many samples can be obtained. At the same time we know that sea ice properties are variable over distances of a few metres. Information from satellites is very limited too as they can only tell us the elevation of the ice surface.

``What we are aiming to do with the underwater vehicle is to make measurements with finer resolution over greater distances to allow us to measure ice properties in a much more robust way. Sea ice varies depending on how old it is, but we are expecting it to be two to three metres thick.

``We are equipping the underwater vehicle with specific instruments to look up at the sea ice from below and tell us how thick it is, how transparent it is and how much algae is growing underneath. We are still making plans but our work will ramp up from October.

``We know the Arctic sea ice area and volume has been declining for some time but Antarctic sea ice is bucking the trend, except for an area to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula. Otherwise, Antarctic sea ice has been increasing slightly in extent and the reasons are not completely clear. It has been suggested that this may be related to shifts in wind patterns or freshening of the surface of the ocean due to increase ice melt and precipitation.’’

Professor Hawes will head down to the Ross Sea region later this year as part of New Zealand's Antarctic programme. He has spent more than 30 years researching Arctic and Antarctic ecosystems. More than 30 University of Canterbury researchers will be on the ice this coming summer.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

New Record: Migrant Arrivals At 129,500 A Year

Annual net migration has been steadily increasing since 2012. "This was mainly due to the rising number of migrant arrivals to New Zealand," population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said. "Fewer migrant departures also contributed to the increase in net migration." More>>

ALSO:

Launched: NASA's Super Pressure Balloon Takes Flight From NZ

NASA successfully launched its football-stadium-sized, heavy-lift super pressure balloon (SPB) from Wanaka, New Zealand, at10:50 a.m. Tuesday, April 25 (6:50 p.m. April 24 in U.S. Eastern Time), on a mission designed to run 100 or more days floating at 110,000 feet (33.5 km) about the globe in the southern hemisphere's mid-latitude band. More>>

ALSO:

Trade Agreements: TPP Minus US Starting To Gain Ground

The Japanese government is picking up the pace on reviving the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment deal, with talks scheduled next month among the 11 countries left in the pact after the withdrawal by the US after the election of president Donald Trump. More>>

ALSO:

PACER:

Prices Up 2.2%: Annual Inflation Highest In Over Five Years

"Rising petrol prices along with the annual rise in cigarette and tobacco tax lifted inflation," prices senior manager Jason Attewell said. "Petrol prices in New Zealand are closely linked to global oil prices, and cigarettes and tobacco taxes rise in the March quarter each year". More>>

ALSO:

Undertaxed? NZ Income Tax Rate Second Lowest Among Developed Nations

New Zealand workers pay the second smallest portion of their income to the government among developed nations and less than half the average ratio of their Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development peers. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news