Rosetta Ice Pod flights, something I knew very little about before deploying, are our last activity yet to be accomplished. Weather has to be near perfect or the flights will not go out. We actually boarded the LC-130 last week in preparation for the flight, but unfortunately, never took off due to weather issues. US Air Force flies these missions but the equipment, the Rosetta Pod and all of the computers on board, are part of the science being done through Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Institute and Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
The LC-130 that flies the Ice Pod Flights. Air Force crew was not happy with me that I was stalling to take pics!
Rosetta Ice Pod mounted below the LC-130 and few tools to help measure the rock, a magnetometer and gravimeter. PPT slide is from Dr. Tinto's presentation.
The lead PI's (Principal Investigators) for the team are Drs. Kirsty Tinto and Dave Porter. We are working closed with Dr. Tinto and her team in particular. She is an Oxford grad in geology and completed her PhD. work at Otago University in NZ. Dr. Porter graduated from Rutgers in meteorology and completed his PhD. through University of CO, Boulder.
Dr. Tinto was kind enough during her very busy day to take a pic with me! Dr. Xie took this picture for us!
Their work here involves mapping the sea floor under the Ross Sea ice shelf and also the ice on top of the shelf. They want to understand how the ice is melting within the ice shelf and how the three major players, glaciology, geology and oceanography are integrated within that. The sea floor under the Ross ice shelf has been mapped, sort of. Original data was collected from historical data and equipment. Further, the grid lines that were followed in the original mapping were far apart and did not yield great resolution and detail of the floor. With the Ice Pod flights, they are able to add in that detail and have a much more accurate depiction of the sea floor.
A look at the melt rate of the ice shelf. The pic is from Dr. Tinto's ppt presentation. I added the red ink so not to forget what I am looking at! The green color is not melting as fast. Pink and red are the fastest melting areas. Black area is sea ice/fast ice.
Historical data mapped the sea floor to look like this. New information from the Rosetta Pod data has helped to add greater detail.
Sea floor mapping is being done on the black grid lines. These flights are adding much more detail than previously known!
Another aspect of their research is determining how the shelf ice is melting. This of course is very interesting work to climatologists. The sea ice and shelf are growing in extent, but not necessarily in thickness. Basal ice flow (ice at the base) and calving processes are happening. Looking at how the ice is melted, whether from underneath or from the deep haline circulations or some other process is important in understanding affects of climate change. To help them determine this, they have deployed robots called ARGO Floats. These robotic devices (1000's of them are floating around the continent deployed by many other countries as well) are submerged into the sea and they sink towards the sea floor. On a ten day cycle, they rise to the surface and collect measurements on conductivity, temperature and depth. On the surface they can interface with satellites and relay their information. However, if they get stuck under an ice field, they can't 'speak' to the satellites. What that means is they need a robot that can detect and avoid overhead ice. They don't have such a robot yet. They also do not have a robot capable of directionality more than up and down. I have heard from several robotics scientists down here and it made me curious. We have a robotics team at school. Would they be interested in looking into underwater vehicles? Apparently, these types of robots often win competitions... as told by one of the robotics engineers here, Robert Zook! He has built and is deploying an underwater robot called SCINI, also the project name, under the Ross Ice Shelf.
Integrated systems at work on the ice shelf, Oceanography, Geology and Glaciology! If you zoom in close, you can see the arrows in the water which could be causes of the shelf ice melt.
Bob Zook showing us the camera that will be mounted on his robot, SCINI, that will be submerged under the sea ice!
Microscopes are not just used in biology! Robotics uses them too… seems like a great skill to pick up in HS!
Zook is explaining the circuitry and inner workings of his robot.
SCINI robot is missing some of it's parts yet, but eventually there will be four cameras, LED's and some other hardware mounted to it!
Kirsty and Dave gave a talk on Sunday evening about the Rosetta missions. Prior to that point, I had very little clue about their work. I knew we were scheduled to fly with them to gather data points on the places we ground surveyed (took ice cores) and that they were also collecting data of a similar nature. I had no idea the scope and magnitude of their project. I am now captivated. I love geology and particularly glaciology and now want to more about their work and am looking even more forward to our Icepod flight if the weather should ever cooperate!
One of the interesting finds of the work Dr. Tinto is doing is that the boundary between east and west Antarctica was discovered to be in a considerably different location based upon the magnetometer readings.
Door sign marks the entrance to the Rosetta Ice Pod tent!
Rosetta tent from the outside! Not too cold inside with the stove going!
A look inside the Rosetta Ice Pod Team's tent at Williams Field.
Computers line one side of the tent at Williams Field.
A long journal today, but lots of information to get out there. Flat Lorax wishes he could go diving and check out the underside of the sea ice, but has to stay here on land... this version is for Bari, a very special, former APBio student!
Flat Lorax postcards for Bari, a former APBIO student and current senior!