An Unusual View of Thawing Permafrost Presented by Internet Cables

Dec 25, 2023 - Views: 168

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Scientists are monitoring the rapidly warming Arctic with the aid of an unusual technique.

They are studying underwater permafrost in the frigid Beaufort Sea employing a fiber-optic telecommunications line that is buried in the bottom off the North Slope of Alaska.

According to Jennifer Frederick, a computational geoscientist at Sandia National Laboratories and one of the researchers working on the project, the setup is straightforward: "It's basically a laser and a computer."

The current cable is made up of a bundle of several dozen fibers that send data via light pulses. 

There was a single fiber in the bundle that the scientists were able to utilize for their research since it was "dark," or not in use.

Internet cables provide a view of thawing permafrost

Internet cables provide a view of thawing permafrost

It was discovered by the researchers that light pulses could be sent down the fiber by passing a laser into the cable. 

The length of time it takes for the light to flow back up the cable is altered if the fiber occurs to expand or compress along the way. 

The fact that the fiber is strained indicates to the scientists that there may have been changes in the seafloor where it is buried, such as locations where there may have been more or less ice in the sediments.

Scientists may use these findings to map out how big the seafloor's permafrost region is.

Read more: The Satellite Internet from HughesNet Is Getting Faster

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