More Than a Snail's Pace: Monitoring Glacial Melt

Institution: Michigan Technological University
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Why This Project Is Important 

Glaciers store more than two-thirds of the world's freshwater. With global climate change raising average temperatures, glaciers worldwide are melting at an alarming rate—oftentimes changing the salinity of surrounding water enough to adversely impact marine life. Currently, Bering Glacier melt generates between 8 and 15 cubic kilometers of fresh water annually, which flows directly into one of the most biologically diverse aquatic environments in the Pacific Ocean: the Gulf of Alaska.

Project Description 

We are seeking additional funding to continue the fabrication, deployment, and maintenance of our proprietary glacier health monitoring sensors: the Glacier Ablation Sensor System (GASS). GASS was initially deployed by scientists at the Michigan Tech Research Institute, the United States Geological Survey, and the Bureau of Land Management to record horizontal and vertical melt of glaciers, as well as meteorological data—including temperature, wind speed, humidity, barometric pressure, and upward- and downward-looking light intensity. GASS employs a rechargeable battery and solar panel to provide at least four-and-a-half months of power, and a microprocessor to manage the power, data collection, and storage. With additional funding, we would like to improve the system's battery and data collection capabilities, and install more sensors to increase the number of sample points. Due to the glacier's remote location, this process is extremely costly, requiring helicopter flights to a base camp and then to various sensor sites. Periodic inspections and repairs of the equipment pose the same transportation and accessibility issues. Even with the study's faraway location, further resources will result in a local impact by helping to shape environmental regulations and promoting overall aquatic health.

Meet the Researcher

Robert Shuchman

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of $10,000 fund goal
The average donation for this project is $69
days left
Funding is Closed

What Your Donation Can Help Us Do: 

  • Deploy more glacier health monitoring sensors on the Bering Glacier—and other glaciers
  • Improve current sensor operation
Although there are no rewards for this project, all donors will receive an email receipt with tax-deduction information.

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