Articles | Volume 12, issue 2
Research article
 | Highlight paper
14 Jul 2023
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 14 Jul 2023

Design and performance of the Hotrod melt-tip ice-drilling system

William Colgan, Christopher Shields, Pavel Talalay, Xiaopeng Fan, Austin P. Lines, Joshua Elliott, Harihar Rajaram, Kenneth Mankoff, Morten Jensen, Mira Backes, Yunchen Liu, Xianzhe Wei, Nanna B. Karlsson, Henrik Spanggård, and Allan Ø. Pedersen


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Executive editor
The authors have developed a groundbreaking system to investigate the thermal structure of ice sheets, which plays a crucial role in their deformation and, ultimately, their stability. The tangible nature of this cabled system, along with its profound implications for measurements, makes this paper exceptionally intriguing and deserving of special attention.
Short summary
We describe a new drill for glaciers and ice sheets. Instead of drilling down into the ice, via mechanical action, our drill melts into the ice. Our goal is simply to pull a cable of temperature sensors on a one-way trip down to the ice–bed interface. Here, we describe the design and testing of our drill. Under laboratory conditions, our melt-tip drill has an efficiency of ∼ 35 % with a theoretical maximum penetration rate of ∼ 12 m h−1. Under field conditions, our efficiency is just ∼ 15 %.