UpTempO: Measuring the Upper Ocean Temperature of the Arctic Ocean

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: climatology, oceanography, sea ice, seasonal variation, water temperature

Principal Investigator: Steele, Michael (3)
Licence Number: 15262
Organization: Univ of Washington
Licenced Year(s): 2013 2011 2010
Issued: Jun 13, 2013

Objective(s): To continue the development and deployment of relatively inexpensive ocean thermistor string buoys that can be used to assess the summertime warming and fall cooling in the seasonal ice zone of the upper Arctic Ocean.

Project Description: The central logistics hypothesis is that a crucial component of an Arctic Observing Network is ocean thermistor string buoys that are capable of measuring the local, atmospherically warmed upper 60 m of the Arctic Ocean. The focus is on the increasingly open seas of the Canadian and eastern Eurasian Basins.

The central scientific hypothesis that provides motivation for this proposal is that these open water areas represent a tremendous storage of heat that will influence summertime sea ice melt, water mass formation, marine ecosystems, and the following autumn’s sea ice growth, atmospheric conditions including cloud formation, and possibly the climate of nearby terrestrial ecosystems.

The main objective is to continue the development and deployment of relatively inexpensive ocean thermistor string buoys that can be used to assess the summertime warming and fall cooling in the seasonal ice zone of the upper Arctic Ocean.

The guiding principle of the UpTempO project is to make relatively inexpensive, small buoys that can be deployed in sufficient quantity from a variety of platforms to sample the seasonal ice zone. The strategy is to use fixed sensors on a string below a floating buoy hull. This is a robust concept that is widely used in the global ocean for a variety of applications. The buoy has a small spherical hull with an Iridium antenna, alkaline batteries (for easier shipping) designed to last ~ 2 years, and a barometer. Attached to the hull is a 60 m long string of 16 thermistors with 0.1°C accuracy sampled every hour. The buoy is boxed for shipping with approximate weight 250 lbs. and a volume of 4 feet cubed. It is deployed using an A-frame or by hand.

The focus is on the Seasonal Ice Zone (SIZ) where sea ice melts each summer. In particular, the research team concentrate on the western Arctic Ocean, i.e., the Canadian Basin, although some buoys may also be deployed on the outer shelves of the Eurasian Basin.

The research team will send reports of results to the Aurora Research Institute which will be made available to communities in the NWT.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 25, 2013 to September 25, 2013.