Understanding the processes occurring at the bottom of the ice sheets is difficult, largely because it's a difficult place to access. The Cryoegg project will design an autonomous sensor which can be deployed underneath the ice sheets, and report back local data in real time. The project aims to:

Dr. Ben Lishman and the Cryoegg prototype in Greenland

The cryoegg must be untethered and able to operate in the subglacial environment, so energy storage is a constraint and the design must be optimised for low power consumption. Wireless communications from the egg are difficult because ice, water, air and sediment can all attenuate communication signals and they are present in varying quantities (see the scenarios below). The project will investigate which communication methods are most effective in the extreme environment.

Scenarios for subglacial sensing

We used a series of laboratory experiments to test the efficacy of radio and acoustic communication strategies, and trialled both methods on the Greenland Ice Sheet (2010-2013). A prototype cryoegg, which uses radio frequency, was first tested beneath the Leverett Glacier in 2012, and near Narsarsuaq in 2013. The prototype measures temperature, water pressure and electrical conductivity, and can transmit data through dirty ice, water and air to a receiving station on the ice surface.

The project is funded by the National Enviromental Research Council .