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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-132
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-132
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 08 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 08 Jul 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Multi-modal sensing drifters as a tool for repeatable glacial hydrology flow path measurements

Andreas Alexander1,2, Maarja Kruusmaa3,4, Jeffrey A. Tuhtan3, Andrew J. Hodson2,5, Thomas V. Schuler1,6, and Andreas Kääb1 Andreas Alexander et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway
  • 2Department of Arctic Geology, The University Centre in Svalbard, 9171 Longyearbyen, Norway
  • 3Centre for Biorobotics, Tallinn University of Technology, 12618 Tallinn, Estonia
  • 4Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491Trondheim, Norway
  • 5Department of Environmental Sciences, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, 6856 Sogndal, Norway
  • 6Department of Arctic Geophysics, The University Centre in Svalbard, 9171 Longyearbyen, Norway

Abstract. Lagrangian drifters are a practical way to measure natural flow features in surface channels. In this study, small cylindrical drifters (length 12 cm, diameter 4 cm) were deployed in a supraglacial channel. Each drifter recorded the total water pressure, linear acceleration, magnetic field strength and rate of rotation at 100 Hz. Based on an ensemble analysis of repeated field deployments (n = 55), it was found that the pressure sensors consistently delivered the most accurate data, where values remained within ±0.11 % of the total pressure time-averaged mean (95 % confidence interval). Magnetometer readings also exhibited low variability across deployments, maintaining readings within ±2.45 % of the time-averaged mean of the magnetometer magnitude. Linear acceleration measurements were found to have substantially larger 95 % confidence intervals, spanning ±34.4 % from the time-averaged mean magnitudes. Furthermore, the drifter speed along the supraglacial channel was estimated by integrating the linear acceleration, providing a 95 % confidence interval of ±24.5 % of the time averaged mean magnitude. The major contribution of this work is to provide a statistical assessment of multimodal drifters, repeatedly deployed in a 450 m long supraglacial channel reach, with a focus on developing a repeatable field measurement methodology including uncertainty. The results of this work show that multimodal drifters are capable of highly repeatable field measurements in supraglacial channels.

Andreas Alexander et al.
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Short summary
This work shows the potential of multi-modal sensing drifters to measure flow parameters along a glacial channels. The technology allows to record the spatial distribution of water pressures along the flow path and allows the estimation of the drifter velocities in the channels. The results show that the measurements have a high repeatability.
This work shows the potential of multi-modal sensing drifters to measure flow parameters along a...
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