Ice Detection Buoy Data

Schematic of the proposed ice detection buoy with surface float containing Iridium satellite communications and burn wire, inductive cable with 4 microCAT CTDs, floatation, and bottom weight with acoustic release assembly.

Researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences developed and deployed an economical sensor package attached to a buoy to provide real-time data on the vertical temperature and salinity structure of the location to determine freeze-up conditions. The buoy was deployed on September 6, 2015 approximately 76 miles NNW of Wainwright in the Chukchi Sea.

After the buoy completed its mission, the signal to release the surface float from the buoy was sent at 10pm on November 6, 2015. The surface float and sea-surface temperature sensor were then drifting free, and sensors at depth were disconnected (though the system continues to report their last measured value). Data after this time is good for only sea surface temperature. At 1pm on December 6th, 2015, the freely-drifting buoy was surrounded by sea ice and sent back it’s last temperature recording.

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Who Will Use This Data?

The goal of this buoy is to:

  • Assist permitting agencies, the oil & gas industry, and subsistence users in determining when offshore sea ice formation begins.
  • Evaluate and refine NOAA and NWS sea ice forecast models (both existing models and those under development), which depend upon accurately predicting the seasonal evolution of the thermohaline structure of the ocean.
  • The data obtained from this sensor system could be useful in guiding remote sensing algorithms for frazil ice detection, a notoriously difficult process for remote sensing platforms.

 


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