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May 3 2013

Javelin-Hurling Scientists Measure Antarctic Glacier Melt

How quickly are glaciers in Antarctica melting? Researchers are launching javelin-shaped devices out of airplanes to help answer that question and find out what's going on in some of the frozen continent's most inaccessible places.

So far, scientists have deployed about 25 of these GPS-equipped javelins in Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier, and another four on the Antarctic Peninsula, said Hilmar Gudmundsson, a researcher at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). The javelins will automatically record and relay their positions for two to three years, allowing researchers to figure out how quickly the glacier is flowing into the ocean. Preliminary measurements show that the Pine Island Glacier's march to the sea is speeding up, Gudmundsson told OurAmazingPlanet.

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