20 Feb 18
Back in 2016, ABB FIA Formula E Championship driver Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt Shaeffler) and the series' Founder and CEO Alejandro Agag, found themselves on a remote ice cap in Greenland. Nope, this isn't the start of a bad joke - they were there to highlight the unprecedented rate that ice caps, like the one they were standing on, are disappearing due to the effect of greenhouse gasses, 10 per cent of which come from cars. See the video of Project Ice below to see how they got on.
While di Grassi piloting an all-electric Formula E car on the ice cap certainly made people sit up and take note, we thought we'd take it one step further, with Formula E teaming up with Southampton University to help to advance the research into the effect warmer temperatures have on ice sheets. Making use of a connected, low-power dGPS - that's a more accurate version of GPS, by the way, which tracks the glacier movement down to the nearest 2cm - we're are able to learn more about the factors causing the ice caps to retreat.
After successfully trialling the system on an iceberg off the coast of Greenland in 2016, the project was extended to track the Breioamerkurjokull and Fjallskokull glaciers in Iceland in 2017. By setting up a base station (at a fixed location) and a rover (planted on the glacier), it was possible to track the movements of each in real time. With the data showing the glaciers melting and developing into lakes at an alarming rate, estimates suggest that at the current rate, the whole front of the Fjallsjokull glacier will be floating by 2029.
Bad news for the Breioamerkurjokull and Fjallskokull glaciers, right? Well, not just the two glaciers, unfortunately - it doesn't look too good for us either. More greenhouse gasses, warmer temperatures and melting glaciers mean rising sea levels and that could mean some cities - such as New York - could well be underwater in years to come.
But it's not all doom and gloom - at least not here at Formula E. With teams such as Audi, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, Renault e.dams, Mahindra Racing, NIO Formula E Team and DS Virgin Racing using the championship to hone their all-electric road-going cars, more people will be turning to electric cars sooner rather than later. That means more pure electric, zero-emissions driving and less greenhouse gas being emitted.
With plans to return to Iceland to further the study later this year, keep an eye on the site to find out more about Formula E's impact on the environment.