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Observations of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets from space, aircraft, and the surface have shown a rapid speedup in the loss of ice mass near the margins during the past decade. The reason for this speedup is unknown.

However, a new unmanned aerial vehicle, specifically designed to meet the demands of radar remote sensing and operation in polar regions, will help scientists understand rapid ice sheet acceleration and thinning, and predict the future contribution of the ice sheets to global sea level rise. Called Meridian, the vehicle's low cost and low fuel consumption will extend the range and duration of remote sensing surveys, and it will allow users to survey critical regions at very fine spatial resolution.