28. Handheld Global Positioning System

Dr Richard Hodgkins

Working from snowmobiles on a wide, featureless ice cap, or from a boat on the surface of a lagoon or fjord, it is vital – but very difficult – to know exactly where you are, and where you need to go.

This is an issue both for safety (how do we get home!) and for science (where do we take our measurements?) Global Positioning Systems (GPS) have revolutionised navigation in remote areas, where maps are still often lacking in detail or out of date, and where human infrastructure is sparse, or sometimes obscured by snow.

This GPS unit has safely taken me to and from weather stations in white-outs, and has located water samples taken from wide glacial fjords. This enables my work on the generation and movement of glacier meltwater from mountains to coasts.

Handheld Global Positioning System - Dr Richard Hodgkins

Watch a short video illustrating the value of handheld GPS for locating scientific equipment in hostile conditions