High risk, high potential: Conducting research near Greenland’s outlet glaciers

Sometimes high potential comes with high risk. Dr. Clark Richards is familiar with the challenge. In 2013, he traveled to Greenland as part of an expedition with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). To understand why Greenland’s ice sheet is melting so quickly beneath the ocean’s surface, the team needed to take measurements right up to the ice face – a place too dangerous for people.

The engineers at WHOI came up with a novel solution: they turned a commercially-available kayak with a jetski engine into a robotic watercraft. With this “Jetyak,” researchers manoeuvered instruments including an RBRconcerto CTD right up close to the glacier to understand how ocean dynamics such as subglacial plumes are destabilizing Greenland’s glaciers.

Read more about this project (downloadable PDF)

Photo of the "Jetyak" in the ocean near Greenalnd's glaciers