Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sensor technology comes in from the cold

27.05.2004


The response of glaciers to global warming is an important element in understanding climate change, involving sea-level change and changes to the thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic. To predict changes in the future it is vital to understand the behaviour of the sub-glacial bed. But reliable data is a prerequisite.

In the first investigation of its kind in the world the University of Southampton’s interdisciplinary GLACSWEB team is recording glacier behaviour through a network of sensor probes installed directly into the glacier.

The GLACSWEB project is aiming to understand glacier dynamics and climatic change, as well as making advances in pervasive sensor networks. The GLACSWEB team, led by Dr Jane Hart, Dr Kirk Martinez and Dr Royan Ong, installed the sensor network last summer at the Briksdalsbreen glacier in Norway. This glacier advanced dramatically in the 1990s as a result of climate change, and the team will return to Briksdalsbreen this summer to deploy a second type of probe which is based on new research developments.



’The aim of the Glacsweb project is to study climate change through its effects on glaciers,’ said Kirk Martinez of the School of Electronics and Computer Science.

’We are using "Subglacial Probes" beneath a glacier, communicating to the surface via radio links. They contain various sensors and their position and orientation is sensed by the surface system. This is the first time wireless probes have been put inside glaciers and it involves many challenges. The systems must feed data back to a server in the UK and contend with communication loss, power loss, noise and bad weather!’

The probes are installed in the sedimentary base of the glacier, about 60 metres under the surface through the use of a powerful hot water drill. They record temperature, pressure, speed and movement of the ice, and more importantly of the sediments at its base.

The probes emit signals carrying the data, which are relayed back to a base station on the glacier surface by radio communications, and then transmitted to Southampton by mobile phone. The data is available to researchers at httpwww.glacsweb.org.

The project is part of the DTI-funded Next Wave Technologies and Markets programme. It aims to ensure that UK business is structured and equipped to exploit new information and communications technologies and products that enable intelligent functionality to be embedded into devices that will eventually become an integral part of life. The ENVISENSE centre at Southampton hosts projects in the areas of larger-scale reconfigurable pervasive computing, such as environmental projects.

’A combination of technologies has made sensor webs possible,’ says Kirk Martinez. ’These will eventually be spread around the world and will give us a clearer picture of exactly how we are changing our environment. In order to make successful sensor webs issues such as: communications, low-power, robustness and adaptability have to be solved through a combination of mechanical engineering, electronics, computer science and environmental science.
’Our sensors are housed in "electronic pebbles" which will behave as part of the glacier, enabling us to get the clearest picture possible of what is happening deep below the surface.’

The project is funded by the Royal Society and the Department of Trade and Industry, and the GLACSWEB team includes Sue Way, Dr Joe Stefanov, Al Riddoch, Chris Havill and Reuben Wilcox.

Sarah Watts | alfa
Further information:
http://soton.ac.uk

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht New Measurement Device: Carbon Dioxide As Geothermometer
21.05.2019 | Universität Heidelberg

nachricht Cause for variability in Arctic sea ice clarified
14.05.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The geometry of an electron determined for the first time

Physicists at the University of Basel are able to show for the first time how a single electron looks in an artificial atom. A newly developed method enables them to show the probability of an electron being present in a space. This allows improved control of electron spins, which could serve as the smallest information unit in a future quantum computer. The experiments were published in Physical Review Letters and the related theory in Physical Review B.

The spin of an electron is a promising candidate for use as the smallest information unit (qubit) of a quantum computer. Controlling and switching this spin or...

Im Focus: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

Im Focus: A step towards probabilistic computing

Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future

When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Plumbene, graphene's latest cousin, realized on the 'nano water cube'

23.05.2019 | Materials Sciences

New flatland material: Physicists obtain quasi-2D gold

23.05.2019 | Materials Sciences

New Boost for ToCoTronics

23.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>