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Powerfilm folding panel helps measure Greenland snow density

Professor Liz Morris from the Scott Polar Research Institute explains how she used a 30W Powerfilm folding solar panel on the Greenland Ice Sheet last year.

"My project is to provide ground truth for the ESA Cryosat satellite, which carries a new radar altimeter and is measuring changes in the elevation of the ice sheets. I am measuring snow density using a neutron scattering technique.

In the photo you can see the cable carrying the logging instrument going over a wheel on the tripod and down into a 10m access hole in the snow.

In the background are our pyramid tent,sledges and snowmobiles. We travel along a traverse of 400 km making measurements every 20-40 km. The logging system uses power supplied by sealed lead acid batteries and unless the weather is very bad I can usually supply enough power using three 30W solar panels.

Last year was the first time I have used a folding panel and I was very pleased with the way it stood up to the cold.


Scott Polar Research Institute


From my point of view it would be an improvement to have cables which remain flexible at low temperatures and waterproof connections, but this is a lot to ask from equipment intended for a mass market. Maybe the manufacturer could be persuaded to make a "polar" version!