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New Zealand's glaciers

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Author Topic: New Zealand's glaciers  (Read 3042 times)
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Having fun in the hills!

« on: January 15, 2015, 02:24:32 pm »

from The Timaru Herald....

University of Canterbury researchers use
hi-tech jetboat to research Tasman Glacier

By SAHIBAN KANWAL | 5:00AM - Tuesday, 13 January 2015

REMOTE-CONTROL: University of Canterbury geography research technican Paul Bealing studies natural glacial process at the Tasman Glacier with the aid a hi-tech jetboat.
REMOTE-CONTROL: University of Canterbury geography research technican Paul Bealing studies
natural glacial process at the Tasman Glacier with the aid a hi-tech jetboat.

A HIGH-TECH remote-controlled jetboat is being used to help researchers better understand the Tasman Glacier.

University of Canterbury geography researchers are using the new technology to understand the processes controlling iceberg calving — when large chunks of ice break off — and glacier retreat on the Tasman Glacier in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

Research glaciologist Heather Purdie has teamed up with University of Canterbury departmental technician Paul Bealing, Mount Cook guiding company Glacier Explorers, and colleagues from the Otago School of Surveying for the project.

Purdie says there is much to learn about the processes driving and shaping glaciers terminating in freshwater environments.

“The Tasman Lake is more than 200 metres deep and I am very interested in what is happening under the water. This data from the boat will help us calculate ice melt under the water and learn more about how glacial hydrology influences calving retreat.”

Understanding the retreat processes is of interest to guiding company Glacier Explorers, Purdie said.

“We are working closely with Glacier Explorers who are reporting an increase in visitors. Glacier tourism is a multimillion-dollar industry in New Zealand. Calving icebergs create a lot of interest so the more we can lean about these processes the better informed the visitors will be.”

The jetboat has already been used to survey water depth at the extreme face of the glacier which is “too dangerous” to approach in a regular boat.

“The boat is equipped with a deep-water echo-sounder and a high precision global position system. A wireless modem transmits information about location and water depth to the researchers who can stay on the Glacier Explorers' boat a safe distance from the face of the glacier,” Purdie says.

The boat was designed and built in Oxford by Adam Wilton of Jettec Development.

“It has an electric motor and aluminium hull and a top speed of 50kmh, although surveys are conducted at a more sedate 8km/h.”

Bealing uses a first person viewer camera system to control the boat.

“Depth data gathered by the unmanned jetboat is calibrated against a dual-frequency echo-sounder, supplied and operated by Otago researcher Emily Tidey,” Purdie said, adding that this summer the team hoped to add additional sensors to the boat to measure water temperature and currents.

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