Remotely monitored buoys for observing the growth and development of sea ice in situ

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  • 1 a SETI Institute, Mountain View, California
  • | 2 b Geoscience Department, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts
  • | 3 c Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • | 4 d Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
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Abstract

This paper describes a remotely monitored buoy that, when deployed in open water prior to freeze-up, permits scientists to monitor not only temperature with depth, and hence freeze up and sea ice thickness, but also the progression of sea ice development – e.g. the extent of cover at a given depth as it grows (solid fraction), the brine volume of the ice, and the salinity of the water just below, which is driven by brine expulsion. Microstructure and In situ Salinity and Temperature (MIST) buoys use sensor “ladders” that, in our prototypes, extend to 88 cm below the surface. We collected hourly measurements of surface air temperature and temperature and electrical impedance every 3 cm to track the seasonal progression of sea ice growth in Elson Lagoon (Utqiaġvik, Alaska) over the 2017-2018 ice growth season. The MIST buoy has the potential to collect detailed sea ice microstructural information over time and help scientists monitor all parts of the growth/melt cycle, including not only the freezing process but the effects of meteorological changes, changing snow cover, the interaction of melt water, and drainage.

Corresponding author: Rachel W. Obbard, robbard@seti.org

Abstract

This paper describes a remotely monitored buoy that, when deployed in open water prior to freeze-up, permits scientists to monitor not only temperature with depth, and hence freeze up and sea ice thickness, but also the progression of sea ice development – e.g. the extent of cover at a given depth as it grows (solid fraction), the brine volume of the ice, and the salinity of the water just below, which is driven by brine expulsion. Microstructure and In situ Salinity and Temperature (MIST) buoys use sensor “ladders” that, in our prototypes, extend to 88 cm below the surface. We collected hourly measurements of surface air temperature and temperature and electrical impedance every 3 cm to track the seasonal progression of sea ice growth in Elson Lagoon (Utqiaġvik, Alaska) over the 2017-2018 ice growth season. The MIST buoy has the potential to collect detailed sea ice microstructural information over time and help scientists monitor all parts of the growth/melt cycle, including not only the freezing process but the effects of meteorological changes, changing snow cover, the interaction of melt water, and drainage.

Corresponding author: Rachel W. Obbard, robbard@seti.org
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