Cryoegg: Development and field trials of a wireless subglacial probe for deep, fast-moving ice

Michael R. Prior-Jones*, Elizabeth A. Bagshaw, Jonathan Lees, Lindsay Clare, Stephen Burrow, Mauro A. Werder, Nanna B. Karlsson, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Thomas R. Chudley, Poul Christoffersen, Jemma L. Wadham, Samuel H. Doyle, Bryn Hubbard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Subglacial hydrological systems require innovative technological solutions to access and observe. Wireless sensor platforms can be used to collect and return data, but their performance in deep and fast-moving ice requires quantification. We report experimental results from Cryoegg: a spherical probe that can be deployed into a borehole or moulin and transit through the subglacial hydrological system. The probe measures temperature, pressure and electrical conductivity in situ and returns all data wirelessly via a radio link. We demonstrate Cryoegg's utility in studying englacial channels and moulins, including in situ salt dilution gauging. Cryoegg uses VHF radio to transmit data to a surface receiving array. We demonstrate transmission through up to 1.3 km of cold ice-a significant improvement on the previous design. The wireless transmission uses Wireless M-Bus on 169 MHz; we present a simple radio link budget model for its performance in cold ice and experimentally confirm its validity. Cryoegg has also been tested successfully in temperate ice. The battery capacity should allow measurements to be made every 2 h for more than a year. Future iterations of the radio system will enable Cryoegg to transmit data through up to 2.5 km of ice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-640
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number264
Early online date09 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2021


  • Glacier hydrology
  • glaciological instruments and methods
  • subglacial processes


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