We are currently planning an exact location for our field camp, but this is very difficult in unknown terrain… On the one hand, we need to be able to ‘see’ the grounding-zone of the Priestley Glacier with our instruments, on the other hand, we can’t deploy them in a very exposed area where the howling winds might affect the measurement. Satellites can help us to identify a suitable spot, and so far we identified two possible field locations: The ‘Bird’s Nest’ and ‘Cosy Corner’.
With these images we can also delineate crevassed areas that we want to avoid, and even separate snow-covered from blue-ice areas. This is not only important for our health and safety, but also for planning where we will deploy the other instruments on the glacier’s surface. The thing we don’t see in these images, however, is what the wind might be like ?! As glaciers cool the atmosphere above them, katabatic winds develop which might just continuously blow in our face. We therefore seek ‘wind-sheltered but also exposed’ sites. Tricky…
Another cool thing that we can measure from satellites is how the ice bends up and down with ocean tides. This process, in turn, controls how fast ice is discharged from the continent and is still not well enough understood. We therefore install all kinds of instruments that can measure what is happening on the glacier’s surface, at the ice base underneath the glacier and even within the ice column in between. Brand-new results from our satellite data analysis have just informed us that we should relocate one of the four ‘grounding-zone stations’ further up the Priestley Glacier. This will help us to understand the process behind tidal ice-flow fluctuations.
This is how science should look like: coffee, cake and satellite remote sensing: