Four EM-bird flights were conducted over sea ice and across the transition to the ice shelf. Photo: Anthony Powell
A New Zealand research team has achieved a major milestone – being the first in the world to measure the thickness of Antarctic sea ice from the air.
The team, led by University of Canterbury glaciologist Wolfgang Rack, has just published its findings, after using a modified plan towing special electromagnetic equipment to measure an 800-kilometre stretch of ice in the Ross Sea.
Rack said Antarctic sea ice would usually be around a metre thick, but in the region surveyed by the team, wind events had greatly increased the thickness.
“On average, the ice was two metres thick, but at its thickest point, it was 16 metres thick.”
He said they did not know how thick the ice was when starting out, and it was important to have baseline data.
“If we want to know if ice is thinning, we need to measure its initial thickness in the first place.”
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