Prague, Nov 12 (CTK) – Czech scientists in Antarctica will for the first time use a drone in the forthcoming season to map the continent's surface and vegetation within their climate change research, daily Pravo writes on Saturday.
Photos from a camera carried by the small unmanned plane will show the extent of iceberg thawing near the James Ross Island close to the Antarctic Peninsula, the daily writes.
Brno's Masaryk University has operated a polar station on the island since 2007.
If the drone proves useful, the experts will replace it with a bigger one in the future.
The drone will help map not only icebergs on the area of 10,000 square kilometers, but also the vegetation of moos and lichen that colonises the areas from which icebergs disappeared, Daniel Nyvlt, a geologist who heads the planned expedition, told the paper.
The expedition will leave southwards in late December and it will stay at in Antarctica until early March.
The drone will spare the scientists of the exhausting climbing of icebergs.
International research has shown that icebergs thawed quickly at the end of the 20th century, when the thickness of some shrank by up to 10 meters to some 60 metres.
At the time, the icebergs shrank by 30 to 40 centimetres a year, a pace that would cause them completely disappear in 200 years.
However, the researchers found out to their surprise that the thawing stopped in 2008 and the icebergs have been putting on volume slightly since, Pravo writes.
The scientists warn, nevertheless, that the icebergs might start receding again. That is also why they need detailed aerial photos, the daily write.
"We need not only photos of icebergs. The technology carried by the drone will give us information about the temperature of surrounding localities and the condition of the moos and lichen there. These data are very important for the research," Nyvlt is quoted as saying.