Everything It Takes to Explore Beneath Polar Ice Caps

Everything It Takes to Explore Beneath Polar Ice Caps


These are our polar oceans, a part of the world that is more foreign to scientists than the moon or Mars. But we are getting closer to discovering more about these crucial environments with advanced robotic technology. Dr. Alex Forrest is at the forefront
of that work. His robots are built to access underneath ice shelves, and to gather data for large-scale maps and models that answer big-picture questions like, “How is a shoreline changing after a storm?” “How is toxic algae spreading?” And, “how fast is polar ice really melting?” The Nansen ice shelf is in Antarctica, down in the Ross Sea, and this ice shelf been an area of interest because it’s breaking up. Basically, a piece of ice the size of Manhattan broke off and drifted off, and it exposed, in cross-sectional view,
one of these subglacial channels that we’ve been trying to get access to for a while. We’re aiming to go back there again
with gliders and AUVs, to try to understand the turbulence and how much energy is being transported
through that system. Energy is associated with heat, so if we understand how much
heat is in that water, we can understand how much
of that heat is coming from the ocean and how much of that is coming from the ice itself. To get a 3D picture of an ecosystem, Alex builds tools including Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, or AUVs with sonar, to make bathymetric maps. He then uses gliders to sample the water column providing him with turbulence, temperature, salinity, chlorophyll and oxygen data. What a glider will do, is move oil around
to displace more or less volume to make it heavier or lighter than the water it’s in. When it reaches an inflection point, it will
pump itself light and then point upwards. The wings create a lift and start
drawing it forward. In here is a satellite phone connector,
a GPS receiver, and a free wave, or radio receiver. So we can talk to it when it’s sitting
up on the surface and tell it where to go from anywhere in the world. All together, these chemical
and environmental fluid mechanic data create a comprehensive model of this ecosystem. Exploring these icy frontiers is a balancing act of keeping people and equipment safe in
extreme weather and ocean conditions, bringing back accurate data, and preserving the very delicate ecosystem
we want to study. One of the biggest challenges underwater is
that we don’t have positioning. We don’t have WiFi, we can’t get radio signals through, we don’t have GPS… all of these tools that we use
in regular, terrestrial mapping. You’re basically guessing where you are underwater,
so you need to develop navigation algorithms if you’re using an underwater vehicle. Now, you put that on a ship, and then [email protected]$%, you all of a sudden are influenced by the waves. So the waves, storms, et cetera will then modify
how your data looks. What we don’t want to happen is to have our
vehicle modify the fragile ecosystem that exists at this water-ice interface. Despite these challenges, Alex and his team
continue to gather this data as it is one of the clearest examples
of how the planet’s climate is changing every day. The polar regions are changing faster than
anybody ever predicted. It’s not just a matter of large pieces of
ice shelves collapsing. What I find more intimidating is the idea
that our sea ice volume is at some of the lowest it’s ever been before; that the Arctic ocean temperatures are getting warmer than ever before; that all of a sudden, air temperatures are getting hotter. So we need to know the baseline conditions of
today if we’re to predict how they’re gonna change and evolve in the future, and also to understand as a global community what we’re losing.

80 Comments on “Everything It Takes to Explore Beneath Polar Ice Caps”

  1. How do I always manage to be at a computer exactly when they upload Science in the Extremes? Didn't even get a notification. I was just here by chance. What?

  2. who tf cares about global warming or dying animals anyway, like I'm gonna be dead before polar ice caps melting have a real effect, my grandkids issues not mines

  3. Is anyone looking at the affects of the heat and displacement of water and soil coming from the use of vessels , ships, boats, trucks, small helicopters, etc that marine biologists, scientists, anthropologist , anyone studying the ice ? I know we try to damage , touch or change the environment as little as possible. I would think sailing into areas like this without ruining what you are studying to some extent seems challenging.

  4. Less about it then mars , give me a break , we have net been to mars , we have some robots skraping the upper lears ….

  5. Am I the only person who noticed that this video was about ANTarctica, and the closing credits had a Polarbear? What, was he bipolar, or something?

  6. By merely punching holes in various places in the ice cap, it changes the environment. More sea ice is being shown to be accumulating.. Ice shelves in Antarctica are being heated up but from underneath.. 91 volcanoes.. UV and cosmic rays being discovered to penetrate the earth and bounce back..

  7. I'm sorry, but I can barely hear what anyone is saying on the video, the music is too loud. Or maybe I'm just getting old.

  8. I think its definitely already too late. renewables are definitely on the rise. but nowhere near taking over fast enough. our carbon footprint is just wayyyyy too high.

  9. What if we created some type of pelleted white material and dropped tons of it in the waters neat the arctic, to help reflect the heat/sunlight. Obviously we would first have to come up with a meterial that got biodegrade in a few years and not be harmful to the wildlife and not affect the salt concentration of water.

  10. What is the base line data for what the temperatures "should" be? Please, someone answer me on that, but look at Greenland ice core data first.
    There is no doubt about burring fossil fuels is bad, but the Earth's climate is very dynamic.

  11. I'm becoming more and more concerned about the ice caps as when that melts, the oceans will rise and coastal cities would drown.. and I live on a coastal city..

  12. I'm becoming more and more concerned about the ice caps as when that melts, the oceans will rise and coastal cities would drown.. and I live on a coastal city..

  13. I have spent months living underneath Arctic ice. So glad that I retired and got the pension. It is all really well mapped out, though.

  14. Is that dude retarded, or just a happy immoral liar? Sea ice, back to near recorded highs, air temps, water temps near record lows, entering a grand solar minimum and you have to be stupid or a paid shill not to see it.

  15. PLEASE STOP PUSHING YOUR FALSE SCIENCE LIES!!! Dr Alex Forest is full of crap. He doesn’t even mention the volcanic activity under the Nansen ice sheet. Here’s the accurate data: http://www.plateclimatology.com/active-volcanoes-geological-forces-melting-antarcticas-nansen-glacier-not-global-warming The Arctic isn’t losing massive amounts of sea ice either: http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icethickness/thk.uk.php

  16. Global warming affects us all, we need to stop killing our planet!!!!
    Plus I want to be a glaciologist and I would like to work with actual ice.

  17. again glomal warming??? ddidnt we go over that alrdy.. some ppl agree some dont.. n wecant change.. like theists n god some ppl believe some dont

  18. i really liked this until the blatant lies about the history of the polar ice caps. someone should teach that "scientist" about new reports of sea ice area extent in the 1800s and 1900s and about the migration of wineries in europe, or the tree stumps hundreds of miles norther from the current extent of the forrests in canada, or new clippings about different sea ice extent around greenland, or about how the south pole has accumulated hundreds of feet of snow in many areas since we have been traveling there and ice is accumulating there.

    what a hack.

    i actually really enjoyed the video until i realized you gave a lying psuedoscientist a prime spotlight for his b.s. lies.

    edit : trees with roots still in the ground. the root systems still being present and being in the ground is important.

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