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Antarctic sea ice research

Wednesday 11 December 2013 9:56am

Greg installing a GNSS station at Marble Point, Antarctica

Although the spatial extent of sea ice in the polar regions is readily measured from satellites, sea ice thickness is not so easily observed.  It is important to get a handle on sea ice thickness in order to estimate the volume of sea ice so that we can know how the amount of sea ice varies from year to year.

Satellite borne radar and laser altimeters are now beginning to provide estimates of sea ice thickness, but these measurements first need to be calibrated by comparing them to ground-based measurements. A team of six researchers travelled to Antarctica in November of this year to undertake a third round of ground validation measurements.  The first two rounds occurred in 2009 and 2011.  One of the team members was the School of Surveying's Dr. Greg Leonard. 

The types of measurements undertaken included establishing the thickness of the sea ice and snow cover.  In addition, a number of GPS stations were established in order to accurately measure the elevation of the sea ice, while another GPS receiver was used to occupy a geodetic mark on Marble Point to provide base station data for a number of helicopter based measurements.

TV3 news footage of this work can be found here.

For further information on this project, please contact Dr. Greg Leonard.