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Robots On Ice Probe the Arctic

Why a team of research robots is investigating disappearing sea ice, and why you should care

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

Deep in the frozen realm of the Arctic, scientists are deploying robots, built to operate autonomously and remotely, to complete a cold, lonely recon mission. These bots will gather information on the area’s sea ice, whirring and clicking far away from anyone who could possibly observe their careful work. Specially designed to withstand the extreme conditions of the region, the machines, which dive, swim, hover, and glide, will monitor the fragile marginal ice zone (MIZ) of the Beaufort Sea. By assessing local environmental changes, scientists are able to track both rising sea levels and the subsequent loss of ice, hoping to keep up with the alarming, rapidly shifting climate conditions of the Arctic, which has been warming at nearly twice the rate as the rest of the globe.

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