Prototype wireless sensors for monitoring subsurface processes in snow and firn

Bagshaw, Elizabeth A. and Karlsson, Nanna B. and Lok, Lai Bun and Lishman, B. E.N. and Clare, Lindsay and Nicholls, Keith W. and Burrow, Steve and Wadham, Jemma L. and Eisen, Olaf and Corr, Hugh and Brennan, Paul and Dahl-Jensen, Dorthe (2018) Prototype wireless sensors for monitoring subsurface processes in snow and firn. Journal of Glaciology, 64 (248). pp. 887-896. ISSN 0022-1430

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The detection and monitoring of meltwater within firn presents a significant monitoring challenge. We explore the potential of small wireless sensors (ETracer+, ET+) to measure temperature, pressure, electrical conductivity and thus the presence or absence of meltwater within firn, through tests in the dry snow zone at the East Greenland Ice Core Project site. The tested sensor platforms are small, robust and low cost, and communicate data via a VHF radio link to surface receivers. The sensors were deployed in low-temperature firn at the centre and shear margins of an ice stream for 4 weeks, and a 'bucket experiment' was used to test the detection of water within otherwise dry firn. The tests showed the ET+ could log subsurface temperatures and transmit the recorded data through up to 150 m dry firn. Two VHF receivers were tested: an autonomous phase-sensitive radio-echo sounder (ApRES) and a WinRadio. The ApRES can combine high-resolution imaging of the firn layers (by radio-echo sounding) with in situ measurements from the sensors, to build up a high spatial and temporal resolution picture of the subsurface. These results indicate that wireless sensors have great potential for long-term monitoring of firn processes.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Glaciology
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09 Nov 2018 11:44
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 02:29