UC Science Radio Season 2: Episode 9
Rodrigo Gomez-Fell: Satellites and sea ice
Gateway Antarctica PhD student Rodrigo Gomez-Fell explains what satellite imagery can tell us about sea ice movement, sea level rise and climate change.
Rodrigo’s research focuses on ice tongues – narrow sheets of ice that form at the end of glaciers and move rapidly from the coastline into the ocean. He uses remote sensing data from satellites and other tools to monitor the mass balance, flexure, and movement of ice tongues in Antarctica.
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In this episode
0.54 Using remote sensing, specifically SAR data, that's synthetic aperture radar, so these kind of images are good for studying polar regions because they're active satellites… you can have continuous data, year round.
3.21 Ice tongues are floating land ice that is affected by land-fast sea ice more than sea ice itself, because sea ice is freely dynamic, so it moves, but land-fast sea ice is attached to the coast and it can affect land ice that is flowing towards the sea.
4.14 Glaciers are moving all the time, so you can see that movement. If you get two images you can figure out the difference between two images and say "Ok that moved, the velocity of such and such"
4.57 Ground validation is super important, because you're seeing something and you're assuming something, but also you're not there, you're not actually getting the real measurement.
6.09 I heard about Gateway Antarctica and the heterogeneity of the people doing work over here, so you got social sciences people who are studying from policy-making to tourism, and we have a little biology from the microscopic things to the top predators, and also the geophysics from satellites to ground measurements, so I thought it was a cool place to go and study.
6.56 All these satellites, they are 500 kilometres upwards in the troposphere, and they're taking images every day, and you can get those and infer information, you can use them to understand these glaciological problems, and I find it very exciting.
7.58 for better understanding, how these different drivers like land-fast sea ice affect this floating ice, we can also infer for other parts of Antarctica and see what's going to happen over there. It will be important for other parts that are having major stresses because of changes in Earth's climate.
Read a transcript of the full interview.
Meet our speakers
Rodrigo Gomez-Fell is a PhD candidate at Gateway Antarctica, at the University of Canterbury. His research involves the use of satellite data and other tools to monitor the mass balance, flexure, and movement of ice tongues in Antarctica.
“All these satellites, they are 500 kilometres upwards in the troposphere, and they're taking images every day, and you can get those and infer information, you can use them to understand these glaciological problems, and I find it very exciting.”
Molly Magid is an MSc student at UC. A recent graduate of Brown University, Molly is working on research in conservation genomics with Associate Professor Tammy Steeves from the School of Biological Sciences. Molly is passionate about finding ways to communicate science to the public in a clear, novel, and engaging ways. Most recently, Molly worked as the lead student producer on the podcast Possibly, which answers listener's questions about sustainability using relevant science research.