Antarctic drone duty gets a successful start

Seaglider at work
Pierre Dutrieux, an oceanographer from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, works on one of the three Seaglider underwater drones deployed in West Antarctica. (Paul G. Allen Philanthropies Photo)

A scientific team supported by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is reporting the successful deployment of a trio of undersea drones to monitor how climate change affects Antarctica’s ice sheets.

Now it’s up to the drones.

“We are so pleased with both the initial data collection and the unprecedented operational success of the mission thus far,” Spencer Reeder, director of climate and energy for Paul G. Allen Philanthropies, said in a news release. “It is hard to fathom that we have already witnessed multiple fully autonomous Seaglider forays of up to 140 kilometers round-trip under the ice shelf.”

The project is being conducted by researchers from the University of Washington and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, with almost $2 million in funding from Allen.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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