Challenges addressed

Global environmental change, in particular rising temperatures, is causing alpine glaciers to retreat and disappear. Glaciers are unique and threatened ecological and human systems that are a major reason for concern, but the consequences of glacier retreat on ecosystems are still poorly known and difficult to measure which makes predictions challenging. It is vitally important to understand and monitor the changes in the biodiversity of these retreating and fast-changing glacier environments to develop solutions for anticipating the impact on glacier retreat on socioecological systems.

However, accessing these environments to collect biodiversity data in the form of images and samples of plants and insects is challenging. Indeed, glacier environments can be inaccessible and dangerous for humans to access, and human presence can have a negative effect on the flora and fauna. Thus, we propose utilising advances in tethered robot systems to develop a monitoring tool for gathering biodiversity data of these inhospitable environments in a safe way.


The aim of the project is developing a robotic monitoring system for sampling and monitoring biodiversity in glacier ecosystems. The team will develop and optimise robots for data collection in these challenging terrains and will gather environmental information using these systems. The team hopes to demonstrate a proof-of-concept of this system and explore how the data gathered can be used to best monitor glacier ecosystems and provide information regarding the biodiversity of these unique environments.

What are the expected outputs of this project?

  • Scientific contributions through the development of a proof-of-concept aerial tethering monitoring and sampling system.
  • Original and unique data reflecting the biodiversity of changing glacier environments. This data can be further used to predict future biodiversity changes in support of solutions that counteract the impact of glacier extinction and associated biodiversity loss on the wider society.


  • October and November 2022

    Creation of the specification for the robot and the sampling requirements

  • November 2022 to April 2023

    Implementation of the robotic monitoring platform

  • May to July 2023

    Test of the system and data collection

  • July and August 2023

    Analysis of the collected data

  • August and September 2023

    Outreach and communication about the data collected and results of the analysis


This project is financed by CLIMACT.

Principal investigators

Prof. Josie Hughes


Dr. Gianalberto Losapio


Sustainable Development Goals

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