4D drones to measure Antarctic clouds, snow & ice

Sleds shrouded in Antarctic fog

Versatile 4D drones for observations of key deep south earth system processes

We have large gaps in our observational data about sea ice, clouds and snow in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, which effects the quality of our climate models.

The challenging polar environment restricts our ability to gather data effectively, particularly about the thickness of sea ice and the distribution of aerosols, which are critical to cloud formation. We need better tools for observing these systems that function well in a tough environment.

In this project, we’re developing and testing the use of drones to gather and validate data, including satellite data. Drones can be deployed from sea ice or ships and can cover a large area quickly – a big advantage. The application of smart technologies means we can contribute to data gathering by other Deep South Challenge projects.

Project contact: Wolfgang Rack, University of Canterbury, Gateway Antarctica
Project budget: $300,000
Project duration: July 2017 – June 2019

This project in the media:
Depth Guage, New Zealand Geographic
UC Receives Funding for 4D Drone Research in Antarctica, AirShare

Research and findings:
The Design of a UAV Mounted Snow Depth Radar, 2017 IEEE Conference on Antenna Measurements & Applications
Targeted observations of Antarctic sea ice: towards process-informed modelling, Wolfgang Rack et al, Deep South Symposium


Return to the Processes and Observations programme page
Check out the full list of Deep South Challenge projects

Latest news and updates

Creating a climate-safe Dunedin through community-driven climate action

2018 may well be the year New Zealand gets serious about adapting to our changing climate. Last year, and the start of this one, gave all of us plenty of opportunities to experience a future in which creeping sea level rise and extreme weather – from drought to flood to surprise storm surges – make day-to-day life more precarious and more expensive.

Stormwater, wastewater and climate change: Impacts on our economy, environment, culture and society

In October 2017, the Deep South Challenge released a report into the state of the nation’s storm and waste water infrastructure, in the face of a changing climate. The report garnered significant media attention – not surprising given the infrastructure is currently valued at well over $20 billion.

The Deep South Challenge awards funding to investigate climate-resilient, high-value crops for the whānau of Omaio

The whānau of Omaio in the Bay of Plenty have joined forces with NIWA researchers to explore the viability of climate-resilient, high-value crops for the rohe. The group has won a $250,000 research grant under the Vision Mātauranga programme of the Deep South National Science Challenge to better understand Omaio’s changing climate and how it might support the community to create a local economy based around a high-value product like kiwi fruit.