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China to monitor melting glaciers through a click of mouse

Chinese scientists are planning to install a wireless sensor network in the South Pole that will enable them to monitor changes in Antarctic glacier with a click of mouse from Beijing.

tech reviews Updated: Aug 23, 2007 21:24 IST

Chinese scientists are planning to install a wireless sensor network in the South Pole that will enable them to monitor changes in Antarctic glacier with a click of mouse from Beijing, polar researchers said on Thursday.

The network is expected be installed during China's 24th Antarctic expedition scheduled for October, a remote sensing specialist of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Cheng Xiao, said.

Cheng and 16 other potential Antarctic explorers are currently receiving a two-week field training programme in Tibet that will equip them with survival skills on high altitudes.

He said the planned network consists of many single chip devices that will collect data from the Dome-A, 4,093 metres above the sea level and the highest point on the continent.

"These white boxes, about the size of cell phones, also process and transmit data so that we can receive them from our offices in Beijing," he said.

The research programme is aimed at a continuous, and more reliable, measurement of the Antarctic glacial changes.

Satellite remote sensing technologies have helped scientists create high-resolution maps of Antarctica, measure movements of the icecap, and track the melting of ice and snow on its surface.

"But the satellite data are still not reliable enough without evidences from the ground, which are difficult to get given the tough Antarctic environment for human and machines," said Cheng.