New UAVs Flying in Antarctica to Study Warming

Posted 28 Mar 2008 at 15:52 UTC by steve Share This

As global warming erodes the massive Antarctic ice shelves faster anticipated, you may not be expecting any good news from the south pole. But According to the Engineer Online, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the University of Braunschweig (TUBS) have teamed up for a series of UAV flights in the Antarctic. While the article describes these as the first UAVs to be used in this part of the world, a reader comments that Russian researchers were flying fixed and rotary wing UAVs in Antarctica as much as 5 years ago. The new UAVs take off and land under human control and operate autonomously during the rest of the mission. So far the UAVs have completed over 20 flights. Each flight lasts about 40 minutes, covers 45 km, and returns over 100 measurments per second of heat exchange rates in the atmosphere and sea ice. The bright, white ice reflects lots of heat and, as more of the ice melts, less heat is reflected, increasing the rate of warming even more. For more on the robots, see the BBC video of the UAVs in action. More photos and info on BAS UAV project can be found in the BAS press release. The BAS site also has photos and video of the latest ice shelf collapse.

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