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Exploring ice

There are lots of ways scientists have been researching Pine Island Glacier to find out how it is changing. An international programme of science called iSTAR has taken many years of planning and preparation and has an ambitious two-year plan to gather data about Pine Island Glacier from land, sea and air.

Below you will find out about just some of the important field equipment that is needed to research Antarctica’s glaciers.

Researching Pine Island Glacier

What equipment is needed?

  • Download and read about many of the different types of equipment used in research on Pine Island Glacier.

The images below show some of the different kinds of equipment used:

Ice radar – Uses high frequency waves to penetrate 50-100m deep into the surface of the glacier so scientists can measure how thick the ice is
Autosub – Small submarine so that scientists can see what is happening beneath the ice shelf. It is designed to create a 3D map of the ice above and of the seabed below using a sonar system.
Skidoos – These are used for transporting both people, and equipment across the ice.
Piston Bulley (tractor) – These tow the fuel and people across the ice. The tractors have a special blade to shovel the snow and carry up to 43 tons of fuel, people and equipment which can be more efficient than skidoos
Sometimes what you simply need is a spade! These are important to dig out some ice to shield tents from the high winds in Antarctica
Tractor train carrying equipment – Field teams have to carry lots of equipment and food, as sometimes they will be out in the field for weeks, so these tractors are a necessity!