If data is gold to scientists, there is a motherlode of unsampled territory in the ocean. But sometimes conditions in the field are too dangerous or hard to reach, putting even the most compelling questions out of reach. Until now. Engineers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have developed a cheap and easy-to-use secret weapon that’s as cute as a kayak with a jet ski engine on it. With the JetYak, scientists are coming closer to predicting how fast Greenland’s ice sheets are melting, how the south shore of Martha’s Vineyard is eroding, and more.

Featured on Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Oceanus Magazine and the National Science Foundations’s Science 360 websites, December 2014.