Cryo-Egg: enabling wireless communications for a deep subglacial application

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Geographical Sciences

Abstract

Many sub-surface environments currently feature as 'voids' in our understanding of the Earth's system, because inaccessibility and hostile conditions prevent the use of cabled measurement devices. The basal regions of glaciers and ice sheets are a prime example of such environments. Here, the presence of moving ice up to several kilometers in thickness means in situ measurements can often only be made by 'wireless' sensors (e.g. the fast-flowing outlet glaciers that discharge ice from Greenland and Antarctica to the ocean). These measurements are critical to improving the current understanding the future response of ice sheets to climate change and the role of 'sub-glacial' environments as habitats for microbial life. Currently, there are no wireless sensors for deep sub-glacial environments. This proposal aims to provide the first proof of concept evaluation of key wireless communications technologies for a deep (up to 4 km of ice) sub-glacial application via a combined laboratory/numerical modeling study. A wide range of technology challenges are present in this deep, icy environment making technology solutions widely applicable to other deep sub-surface situations where rock, water and/or ice are present (e.g. deep ocean, mines, rock boreholes, permafrost). Technologies developed will have numerous possibilities for future use by deep-ice sheet drilling science campaigns, to include, the Lake Ellsworth Exploration Programme (via project partner Siegert) and BEAMISH (via project partner Smith). The proposal has direct relevant for NERC strategic science areas of 'Climate system', 'Biodiversity' and 'Technologies' and cross-cuts many NERC science topics (e.g. Climate and Climate change, Glacial and Cryospheric Systems, Hydrological Processes and Technology for Environmental Application). Research conducted will provide a springboard for a subsequent NERC/EPSRC bid, aiming to develop the first autonomous sensing platform for a deep ice sheet deployment.
 
Description Chair of the SCAR ATHENA Expert Group (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research) "Advancing TecHnologies for subglacial ExploratioN in Antarctica" and in the SCAR Code of Conduct for subglacial access in Antarctica
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guidance committee
Impact The SCAR Code of Conduct (on which Wadham served as a panel member) established guidelines for subglacial exploration in Antarctica. These have informed 3 subglacial lake access campaigns worldwide.
URL http://www.scar.org/scar_media/documents/science/atcm34_ip033_CofC_SAEs.pdf
 
Description Cryoegg: a novel wireless instrument for exploring deep ice
Amount £232,387 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R03530X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 10/2021
 
Description UKIERI: Bio-climatic feedbacks of melting Himalayan Ice
Amount £198,000 (GBP)
Organisation UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 04/2020
 
Description Collaboration with the East Greenland Ice Core Project (EGRIP) 
Organisation University of Copenhagen
Department Niels Bohr Institute
Country Denmark 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Liz Bagshaw (former PDRA on two technology-led NERC grants led from Bristol) participated in the EGRIP field season, and developed and deployed Etracers and Cryo-Eggs for monitoring processes in firn.
Collaborator Contribution This collaboration would not have been possible without significant in kind backing from the EGRIP team.
Impact Further plans are being developed.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research ATHENA Expert group launched 
Organisation Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Leadership of an Expert group by Wadham on Advancing TecHnologies for Exploration in Antarctica (ATHENA) - international collaboration with several countries linked to NERC-funded research
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration
Impact Publication of a Special Issue of Annals of Glaciology on Advancing Technologies for Exploration in Antartica, input to the SCAR Code of Conduct for future exploration of subglacial environments (link to policy)
Start Year 2010
 
Description Technology Development 
Organisation Biotrack
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Development and adaptation of animal tracking equipment for glacier hydrology research
Collaborator Contribution collaboration
Impact Various publications - see publications
Start Year 2009
 
Description Technology application in Antarctica 
Organisation British Antarctic Survey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Development of sensors and instrumentation for potential deployment via the BEAMISH programme
Collaborator Contribution input to technology development
Impact none as yet
Start Year 2010
 
Description Technology application in Antarctica 
Organisation Imperial College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Delivery of technology for future subglacial lake exploration
Collaborator Contribution deployment opportunities for technology deployment
Impact Ongoing
Start Year 2010
 
Description 1. Exhibition on "Could Cryo-Eggs help predict sea level rise?" at the Science Museum "Contemporary Science Gallery" (London, 2010-2011): 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact exhibition sparked much public interest via a web-based Q&A

media uptake
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011
 
Description Keynote at European Geophysical Union Meeting (Vienna) by Wadham 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Wadham was invited to give a keynote presentation about her sensor development work via several NERC funded projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Organisation of a workshop - Sensor data collection and management in freshwater systems 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact new collaborations

NERC impact accelerator funding (See follow-one funding)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Science presentations at 7 international schools in Hong Kong and China 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Email follow up has happened. Further information has been requested.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
 
Description Sixth Form Science Café, Castle School Thornbury, Bristol, Nov 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The purpose to was to engage schools groups in science and technology in ice sheets. Follow up correspondence has happened.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Subglacial processes early career training workshop, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Apr 2014: Talk on New technologies for subglacial investigation; Biogeochemistry of subglacial environments 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Follow up correspondence
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Talks at schools (Schools STEM outreach day, 5th July, Bristol Oasis Marksbury Rd, 30th January by Liz Bagshaw) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Liz Bagshaw, former PDRA on two sensor-focussed research grants, gave talks at local schools in Bristol and Cardiff.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016