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Fiber Optics In Antarctica Will Monitor Ice Sheet Melting 92

sciencehabit writes: Earth is rapidly being wired with fiber-optic cables — inexpensive, flexible strands of silicon dioxide that have revolutionized telecommunications. They've already crisscrossed the planet's oceans, linking every continent but one: Antarctica. Now, fiber optics has arrived at the continent, but to measure ice sheet temperatures rather than carry telecommunication signals. A team of scientists using an innovative fiber-optic cable–based technology has measured temperature changes within and below the ice over 14 months. This technology, they say, offers a powerful new tool to observe and quantify melting at the base of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
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Fiber Optics In Antarctica Will Monitor Ice Sheet Melting

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  • Nice, here I live in Seattle, just off of downtown, can't get fiber optics, but hey, whatever. fuckers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Teresita ( 982888 )
      There's a record 7.6 million square miles of ice pack in Antarctica this year, but no, we need to measure it melting.
      • The area of the ice is irrelevant. It affects albedo, but that is insufficient to cancel out the influence of contaminants like excessive CO2. What we care about is the mass of the ice, and we covered here fairly recently how that has decreased sufficiently to measure gravitationally.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      This is +4 informative? Seriously?

      For those who can't be bothered to read the summary, this is not about FO communications. Some guys are using the properties of fiber optics and light to figure out the temperature along a length of cable they dropped down a bore shaft to the ocean.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Marking a funny post as funny doesn't get the poster any "points" so many times funny posts get marked informative. That or the average /. moderator is a total idiot.
        I'll let you decide what is more likely.

      • by Shatrat ( 855151 )

        They are using technology developed for fiber optic communications. I expect the fiber they are using is standard single-mode G.652 fiber, and the device they are using to measure http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... [wikipedia.org] is an OTDR, which we use in telecom to measure fiber quality and locate defects/breaks.

  • TFA by Carolyn Gramling is a real piece of work. It makes scary claims and then links to articles that make no such claims. I guess that is what staff editors do for us.
  • by dargaud ( 518470 ) <slashdot2 AT gdargaud DOT net> on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @12:28AM (#48201585) Homepage
    Over a decade ago I submitted a project to carry data in Antarctica by a 1500km fiber for a large project. It was shut down by the Americans because according to the Antarctic Treaty you cannot leave anything in Antarctica permanently. Now the US has this project (how are they gonna get it out of the Ice ?), Ice Cube (which has thousands of detectors under km of ice) and others...
    • That's because that will be there for permanent - 1 day.

    • Over a decade ago I submitted a project to carry data in Antarctica by a 1500km fiber for a large project. It was shut down by the Americans because according to the Antarctic Treaty you cannot leave anything in Antarctica permanently.

      I think that they pull it back up when they're done, as they did last year:
      Although Tyler’s team pulled its instruments out of the borehole in January 2013, the mooring that held the cable in place remains frozen into the ice shelf, he says—and the team hopes they can get back to it for a longer term monitoring project.

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