"Jökull" vs. Jökull is like David and Goliath

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UW Tacoma's new remotely-operated research vessel, dubbed "Jökull," meaning "Glacier," will meet the real thing as geoscientist Dan Shugar prepares for a summer of field investigations.

"Jökull" means glacier in Icelandic. It's also a new remotely-operated research vessel acquired by UW Tacoma geoscientist Dan Shugar with funding from the National Science Foundation. In a match-up remeniscent of David vs. Goliath, this summer Jökull-the-boat will visit pristine saltwater and freshwater environments where jökull-the-glaciers rule.

A video, below, shows Jökull in the Thea Foss Waterway near the Center for Urban Waters.

Jökull will carry instrumentation such as sonar, a GPS receiver, and an "inertial measurement unit." These devices will be operated remotely by Shugar and his co-researchers, who will be nearby aboard other ships or on shore. The small size of the vessel, and the remote control, mean it can go into locations inaccessible or unsafe for traditional survey boats.

In early August, Shugar and his team will take Jökull to southeastern Alaska's Taan Fiord, part of Icy Bay adjoining the St. Elias Mountains. The fiord was the site of one of the largest landslides ever recorded, which was accompanied by a massive tsunami. Shugar and other researchers will gather information about landslides and tsunamis that will hopefully lead to better predictive models of those kinds of events.

Then, in late August, Shugar and students will study the Slims River in Kluane National Park, Yukon, Canada. Here, the advantage of Jökull will be its small size and shallow draft. Shugar hopes to map the submarine structures of the river bed in unprecedented detail.

More details about Jökull are available on the manufacturer's website.

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Written by: 
John Burkhardt / July 15, 2016
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu