Lake – o – meter (patent pending)

by Guest Blogger

July 27, 2005

We have many pieces of highly sophisticated technological equipment at

our disposal here on the Arctic Sunrise. One of the newest is our

Lake-o-meter (patent pending). While it may look suspiciously like a

length of rope with a shackle on the end, the Lake-o-meter (patent

pending) is in fact a depth measuring system with a high degree of

operational reliability.

The Lake-o-meter (patent pending) was invented to get a rough idea of

how deep the melt lakes on Helheim glacier are. To deploy the

Lake-o-meter (patent pending), the helicopter hovers over the melt lake,

while the “rope” is lowered through an open door (obviously, seatbelts

must be worn at all times). Naturally, the distance from the helicopter

to the water’s surface must be adjusted for. This can be done by using

the helicopter’s radalt (radar altimeter), visual observation, or (more

accurately) checking where the wet bit starts as the Lake-o-meter

(patent pending) is retrieved. If the last method is used, the

Lake-o-meter (patent pending) must be “reset” between measurements (by

letting it dry).

As silly as the Lake-o-meter (patent pending) might sound, it has a

serious side. An average sized lake we measured was 14 meters (46 feet)

deep, and only one of hundreds. These glacial lakes indicate surface

melting, and absorb more sun than bare ice (thus increasing the surface

melting further). The melt water also has a lubricating effect when it

drains into the base of the glacier, causing it to speed up.

Faster glaciers lead to more sea level rise when, like Helheim, they

drain the Greenland ice sheet. And the faster these glaciers flow the

faster the ice sheet gets transported out into the ocean.

– Andrew

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