University of Oregon Oceanographers Use LiveViewGPS Tracking on Icebergs

8 Feb 2019

Over the course of the past two summers, oceanographer, Dave Sutherland, from the University of Oregon, along with a small team of researchers have devoted three or four weeks of their summer boating from iceberg to iceberg off the coast of Greenland to conduct research into how climate change is affecting both the shipping industry and the climate.

They are doing this with the assistance of LiveViewGPS tracking units that have been set up on over a dozen icebergs in the area. The GPS tracking technology collects data throughout the year providing researchers with the information they need to draw various conclusions about the icebergs in real time and from a great distance. Their goal is to observe and track where the icebergs have moved and how fast they are melting in real time.

Here’s what the research team has discovered.

The larger icebergs are melting faster than the smaller ones. While some would imagine that the larger icebergs melting would help to cool the environment, the opposite is, in fact, happening. They are causing the environment around them to warm faster. It is the ocean that is trapping and absorbing the heat instead.

Sutherland explains that the oceans are doing humanity a favor by bearing the brunt of the warming taking place. The concern is that this will not continue indefinitely and when the oceans no longer absorb the additional heat, things are going to get a lot hotter on the land.

What’s even more alarming for some researchers is that melting glaciers are causing an increase in the number of icebergs in the ocean.

Sutherland and his team of researchers intend to continue tracking and studying the icebergs hoping to gain a better understanding of the icebergs themselves and how impactful they are for helping to moderate and maintain our climate.

Sutherland and his researchers aren’t the only ones to use GPS tracking to monitor icebergs. NASA has also put the technology to work for them helping to study the position of icebergs and other researchers are using GPS stations in Greenland to study melting ice sheets and the potential for catastrophic damage they represent if they were to melt completely. While we continue to study the possible impacts of global warming, GPS technology is fueling the research.

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