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The University of Southampton

Scientists use drones to land sensors onto glaciers threatened by climate change

Published: 13 October 2023
Drone lands sensor on glacier
Drone drops global warming-monitoring sensor onto Icelandic glacier

Scientist have unveiled a new climate change-monitoring sensor which can be airlifted onto icy glaciers using drones to measure the impact of global warming.

The device, built by experts from the University of Southampton, can be flown for miles and land directly onto glaciers which are usually be impossible to reach by humans.

The scientific team have already deployed two of the sensors in Iceland to assess melting ice and its contribution to rising sea levels.

Professor Kirk Martinez, from the University of Southampton team, said the tech is the first of its kind to examine the precise movement of glaciers.

He added: “These sensors are lightweight enough to be delivered by drone to give us access to places which are usually unreachable manually. We have already begun receiving data daily which shows changes in the glacier’s behaviour and its fluctuations in velocity.”

The scientists behind the device are now inspecting the findings from the two sensors that have been flown to freezing conditions in Iceland.

The team are also aiming to use the sensors in other locations worldwide, said Professor of Geography Jane K Hart also from the University of Southampton.

She added: “Glaciers are like the canaries as they provide us with a warning sign for climate change. The sensors we are landing on the glaciers provide a new way of observing their behaviour.”

Read more about the project at

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