March 26, 2014
Breathtaking Ice Cave Views Taken By GoPro-Equipped Drone: VIDEO
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Using a ‘quadcopter’ drone and a GoPro camera, a film crew from Los Angeles has captured breathtaking views of the ice caves that wind their way through Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier. The rapid melting of this glacier means that similar footage could be unattainable in just a few years.
“For me it was the raw beauty and power of the glacier that really inspired me to film the glacier,” Christopher Carson, a producer for Firefight Films, told the Alaska Dispatch. “There are stumps exposed that we filmed in the glacier that date back over 2,000 years. And while our climate is warming, it's amazing to see all the beauty and our new set of land being carved by this massive block of ice.”
“When you’re in the ice cave, you are in pure awe of the beauty that lies around you,” he added. “This feeling is surreal and empowering.”
Carson said the film crew piloted a DSLR Pros DJI Phantom Cannes P2 Kit drone into spaces that a regular camera crew could not reach without disrupting the glacier.
"We chose this highly sophisticated piece of aerial equipment for its stability and complex navigation throughout the ice caves," he said.
The crew was able to monitor the flight of the drone by simply using the GoPro camera as their eyes. The camera was configured to send a real-time video feed wirelessly back to the crew.
“This extremely sophisticated technology helped us achieve these beautiful shots. This was an extremely difficult shoot with so many variable and things that could go wrong during the filming," Carson said.
Caused by glacial meltwater, the ice caves weave in and out of the Mendenhall Glacier, which measures about 12 miles long. The glacier is located about 12 miles from downtown Juneau, Alaska and considered a popular tourist destination.
“There were a lot of nervous moments,” Carson told The Daily Mail.
“In the ice caves, these drones transmit the video, so we can send it into small crevasses,” he continued. “We had problems losing signal in there, they are hundreds of feet of ice think.”
“There was also a lot of turbulence in the caves caused by the four blades - we almost lost the quadcopters a few times,” Carson said.
In September, Juneau Empire reported that the receding of the Mendenhall Glacier has revealed ancient forests that have been trapped under ice for more than 2,300 years. Evidence of these old forests can be seen in stumps and logs scattered across the newly revealed landscape.
According to Cathy Connor, a geology professor at University of Alaska Southeast, when the glacier was advancing over the forest – it snapped off tree tops and buried the remaining stumps in a layer of silt and gravel.
“We’re seeing the Mendenhall wax and wane through time a little bit,” Connor said.
“The tricky part is, as the ice advances in earlier time, it tends to scour away whatever was there before,” she said. “So often you just get the latest chapter of the story, rather than come in at the introduction … It’s the luck of the Irish how you get a little bit of the story still remaining that hasn’t gotten ravaged and sent down the Mendenhall (River) and out to Gastineau Channel. Most of the story is now in the sea sediments and a little hard to decipher.”