3:30 pm Zoom
Robots Under the Ice, and One Day, In Space?
Britney Schmidt, Georgia Tech
Beneath ice shelves on Earth, processes such as accretion, melt and circulation mediate the interaction between the ocean and the ice. These are an important element of the climate system, contributing to the evolution of the ice shelf, and in some cases, contribute to the marine ice sheet instability. And yet given the critical role of these processes in a changing world, they are extremely challenging to observe given the harsh environment and thickness of the ice. Exploring the cryosphere can also form the foundation of our understanding of other ocean worlds, such as Europa, and provide a test bed for their exploration. I will describe our work on the McMurdo and Ross Ice Shelves under our 2017-2020 field program, RISE UP, using under ice AUV/ROV Icefin built by our research team at Georgia Tech, and our work collaborating with projects sponsored by Antarctica New Zealand. I will also highlight our contribution to the NSF-NERC International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, where in 2020, we reached the grounding line of a major glacier for the first time. With a cross-disciplinary suite of in situ instruments, Icefin allows us to spatially constrain oceanographic conditions, geologic and glaciological context, and provide information on the ecosystems below the ice. Using this new robotic capability, we are working to gather unique new data relevant to climate and planetary science, and develop techniques for together exploring the Earth and one day Europa, an ice-covered world not so unlike our own.