Featured application: Measuring Arctic ice melting rates

Bruce Vaughn of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado is leading the way in making stable isotope measurements of deep ice cores from the polar ice sheets. INSTAAR has developed a method for continuous analysis that includes a Dimetix DLS-BH30 laser distance sensor with an integrated heater to monitor the movement of meter-long ice core sticks as they are slowly melted and analyzed for water isotopes, which are a proxy for historical temperature. The Dimetix laser, mounted inside a -40⁰F freezer, has been providing vital data for the project since 2010. The distance sensor measures the relative distance change to the top of a stainless steel weight resting on a sample of Polar ice, which very accurately determines the melt rate and depth of the ice being analyzed, allowing the ice to be depth/age registered.