Fiber Optics Monitor Changes in the Earth

15073398_SOnce again, fiber optic technology is being used to monitor and respond to major changes in the earth’s structure. Scott Tyler, a professor of geosciences at the University of Nevada has just published his fourth paper in an issue of Geophysical Letters detailing his new findings from a fairly new application of fiber optics: temperature sensing in Antarctica.

The paper details the shifting of the Ross Ice Shelf, the largest floating ice mass in Antarctica, roughly the size of France. Tyler and his team planted a fiber optic cable 200 meters deep in a subsidiary of the ice shelf that hangs only 600 meters over the ocean floor. The data is transmitted via satellite for real-time notations in temperature of both the ice and the sea surrounding it to the lab in the University of Nevada. These transmissions occur roughly eight times per day.

The ultimate goal is to be able to track mass climate change, though a huge part of the current application is a fairly closed circuit endeavor: the cable also records data that tests the drill design, fiber optic installation and sensing, and the logistics of power management of the site.

The installation has only been in place for a year, but already Tyler and his team have proved mass warming on the shelf, though most of this warming does occur seasonally. The current model is based on a prototype that Tyler and his colleagues patented six years ago, though this is the first field test.

For full details on the findings of the crew, check out the Oct. 16 issue of Geophysics Letters. Keep up to date on the latest fiber optic applications of new technologies with the Connected Fiber blog and for all of your personal and professional fiber optic needs, contact Connected Fiber today!


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