"Rubber" Duckies Deployed to Track Glacier Movements

Photo Napalm filled tires @ flickr

This story seems to be one of those you couldn't make up even if you tried. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has dropped 90 rubber ducks into the ice of the Jakobshavn Greenland glacier in an attempt to study why glaciers speed up and move faster in the summer months. The researchers hope the ducks will be show up in the waters of Baffin Bay or around there and give them clues to how water moves through these huge floating ice islands.

Ever hear of the garbage vortex?
One NASA theory is that pools of water on the top of the glaciers melt in summer sun and these pools flow into tube-shaped holes in the ice called moulins and thus down to the underside of the glacier to speed up its forward motion. Or that's a theory, anyway. That's why dropping the duckies seems like a good idea to the researchers. But the poor rubber ducks (which mostly these days are actually made from vinyl plastic) are not biodegradable!Instead, the ducks are labeled with words such as "science experiment" and "reward" and an e-mail address. Finding out where the ducks were retrieved might help the experimenters figure out where water flowing beneath the glacier ends up. There's also a probe in the Jakobshavn ice that might signal its position as it moves in the glacier via GPS.

So if you see a duck, please pick it up. Otherwise, it will eventually become part of the awful detritus of flotsam and jetsam that the ocean is accumulating and that eventually becomes tiny bits of plastic too small to clean up, but horribly detrimental to marine life. In fact, an 'armada' of plastic yellow ducks, blue turtles and green frogs fell overboard a cargo ship fifteen years ago and bobbed ashore on British beaches last year, providing scientists with lots of info on the movement of ocean currents. Via ::Reuters
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Tags: Glaciers | Greenland | Plastics | Toys

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