iSTAR project marked with commemorative stamps
The iSTAR Ice Sheet Stability programme, in which UCL's Electronic & Electrical Engineering department is involved, is soon to be marked with a set of commemorative stamps, due for issue on 16th November.
iSTAR is an ambitious scientific programme funded by NERC involving leading scientists from 11 UK universities and from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). The objective is to improve understanding of ice depletion processes in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, where the greatest rates of ice loss over the last decades have been observed. New knowledge about the stability of this ice sheet is critical for making better predictions on the response of the ocean and ice to environmental change, and their future sea levels. The six-year, £7.4 million programme involves four main research projects — each using state-of-the art technologies to make new discoveries about the ocean or the ice.
The UCL contribution to this work, led by Prof Paul Brennan, is the development (and assistance with deployment) of an advanced radar measurement system, aApRES, which is now in use in some 20 locations in Antarctica and Greenland. The system is based on a phase-sensitive FMCW technique pioneered at UCL that measures the depth and profile of ice shelves and internal layers to sub-mm precision. ApRES is now in its second circuit board iteration and is designed to consume a very low power so it may be left in the field unattended for a complete year, operating from a single battery, monitoring the gradual change in ice shelf profile during a complete annual cycle. A further 20 or more units are being produced for use by researchers around the globe, including the UK and USA.