Aircraft-Deployable Ice Observation System (ADIOS) for instrumenting inaccessible glaciers
There remain large regions of scientific interest in the Antarctic that are not instrumented. These include highly dynamic ice streams and glaciers that are difficult or impossible to reach safely because heavy crevassing impedes an overland trek or an aircraft landing. We have developed an alternative strategy for instrumenting these regions: an aerodynamic sensor that can be dropped from an overflying aircraft. During freefall the sensor accelerates to its terminal velocity of 42 m s–1 before impacting with the glacier. On impact it partially buries itself in the snow while leaving an antenna mast protruding high above the surface to ensure a long operating life. In this paper, we describe the design and results of testing this aircraft-deployable sensor. Finally we present the initial results of two campaigns to instrument inaccessible regions of Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica, and Scar Inlet, Antarctic Peninsula, with GPS receivers.