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Scientists use fiber-optic cables to measure ice loss in Antarctic

Once the team drills and melts their way down through the ice shelf, they have 20 minutes to get all the instrumentation down through approximately 200 meters (656 feet) of ice before the hole freezes over again. 
Credit: Victor Zagorodnov


Fiber-optic cables like the ones that bring television and Internet into millions of homes are now being used to measure how fast ice shelves in Antarctica are melting, according to new research. Researchers installed moorings containing fiber-optic cables hundreds of meters down into the McMurdo Ice Shelf in West Antarctica to collect temperature information about the base of the ice shelf, where the thick platform of floating ice meets the ocean. The sensors were able to measure mere millimeters of ice loss at the interface, demonstrating that the new fiber-optic method could be used to remotely monitor the ice shelves in real-time.


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