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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum

Subglacial multi-sensor probe development

Awarded: NOK 0.50 mill.

The sliding of ice across its base dominates the transfer of water locked in glaciers and ice sheets to the ocean, considerably contributing to ongoing and future sea level rise. However, processes at the base of glaciers are still insufficiently understood due to challenges in accessing and reliably observing these environments. SLIDE will generate synergies by exploiting complementary instrument designs and competences of several research groups and develop a new multi-sensor probe to sense conditions at the base of glaciers and ice sheets. Our novel device combines two existing technologies, namely a newly developed digital version of the well-established ploughmeter and the CryoEgg to form a wireless multi-sensor probe for measuring subglacial hydro-mechanical conditions. This will extend the scope of the instrument towards applicability for ice sheet scales. The project will use Kongsvegen glacier on Svalbard as a unique glacier laboratory to conduct a full-scale proof-of-concept study for the new device. The activity will benefit from the unique accessibility of Svalbard glaciers as well as the available research infrastructure and ongoing research activities and further develop the comprehensive background knowledge that has been acquired over decades. After assembling the novel device, a borehole will be drilled to the base of Kongsvegen to deploy the instrument at the base of the glacier and transmit its measurements to a receiver station at the glacier surface. This will represent a prototype test for a new generation of borehole instruments for use on thick glaciers and ice sheets. To disseminate the results and exchange the gained experiences with other actors in the field, SLIDE will organize a subglacial instrumentation workshop.

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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum