AMSL has a proven capability for world-leading exploration beneath Antarctic ice shelves.
AMSL has a proven capability for world-leading exploration beneath Antarctic ice shelves and is ready to participate in the next generation of international, multi-institutional integrated observation programs at both polar regions.
The University of Tasmania is a world-leader in Antarctic research and over the last decade has been very active in the application of AUVs for ocean/ice interaction research. Specifically, addressing critical ocean/ice/seafloor data gaps from beneath Antarctic ice shelves and Antarctic sea ice.
In 2017, the University of Tasmania acquired the Explorer-class AUV ‘nupiri muka’. This was purpose-built by International Submarine Engineering using funding from the Australian Research Council’s Antarctic Gateway Partnership Special Research Initiative (https://www.imas.utas.edu.au/antarctic-gateway-partnership) and the Australian Maritime College.
After preliminary testing at Beauty Pt and in Lake St Clair, Tasmania, nupiri muka and its team undertook its first scientific capability development trials at the Sorsdal Glacier nearby Davis Station, East Antarctica in the summer of 2018/19.
Facilitated through the Australian Antarctic Division, AMSL’s first under ice shelf mission was out to a maximum of 600m from the ice shelf front. This relatively short, but crucial first step formed the basis of a journal publication detailing the AUV’s role in understanding of the ocean processes beneath the Sorsdal Glacier (https://www.imas.utas.edu.au/news/news-items/first-results-from-auv-mission-reveal-secrets-of-the-srsdal-ice-shelf).
Soon after the successful first trial, nupiri muka was invited to join its first international marine science voyage with the Korean Polar Research Institute. In the summer of 2019/2020, the AUV team participated in the LIONESS-TG expedition on board the Korean Icebreaker RV Araon, supporting Korea’s involvement in the US/UK led International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. In challenging conditions, the AUV team achieved another major step forward in its capability development, successfully launching/recovering from an icebreaker and completing a 60 km round trip beneath a sea-ice barrier at the front of the Thwaites Glacier.