April 2004 Deployment of the Autonomous Ocean Flux Buoy at the North Pole Enviromental Observation Station

The third NPS Autonomous Ocean Flux Buoy was deployed during late April 2004 as a component of the North Pole Environmental Observatory. This operation enjoyed mainly fine, clear weather with low winds, allowing the buoy to be installed and tested over a couple of days with the help of Dean Stewart (UW APL), and Sigrid Salo (PMEL). A photo summary of the the installation about 50 Km south of the North Pole follows.

[Dean and Tim lowering the instrument package through the ice hole]

Getting there

All gear and personnel were flown North from a staging area at Resolute Bay, NT, Canada, through Alert to Ice Camp Borneo on a chartered Hawker Siddley 748 run by First Air. The intrument package for the ocean flux buoy was lowered through a 25cm diameter hole augered through the 2.7m thick ice. The instruments measured the vertical transport of heat and salt in response to surface forcing through the ice for the following year. Current profiles are also measured down through the ocean mixed layer into the pycnolcine, where increasing salinity stratifies the water column and inhibits mixing further down into the ocean.

[The deployment tent and installed ocean flux buoy]

The ice deployed flux measurments

The ocean flux buoy was deployed close to instruments that measured heat flux through the ice and snow (CREL), bulk atmospheric flux measurments (PMEL) and sunlight intesnity measurments (CREL) at a site about 0.5 Km from the main Borneo ice camp. We moved equipment out from the staging area in the camp initially by tractor, then later by hand hauled arkio sleds. The buoy site was chosen after a survey to find the oldest and thickest multi-year ice which had the best chance of surviving ice cracking and ridging (and destruction of the buoys). The ice flow will crack, form leads and ridge as it moves out of the central Arctic toward the Atlantic Ocean over the next year. All data from the instrument systems on the ice flow are sent back in real time by either Argos or Iridium saltellite communications.

[Longwave and Short Wave Solar Radiation Measurements]

Sun Intensity Observations

Heating by the long, bright summer sunlight is an importent term in warming the ice and upper ocean. Two sensors were deployed by PMEL to make this high precision measurement at the buoy site. Large solar panels and car batteries are used to blow slightly warmed air over the glass domes of the sensors to keep them free of ice and snow through the summer. Both the long wave (infr-red) and shortwave (visible) sensors produce large errors if there is anything on the sesnor surfaces. The ice camera looking at the ocean flux buoy is at this location.

[Camp Teardown at the end of the deployment]

Camp Teardown

Just after the ice floe instrument systems had been deployed, the Russian tour operators quickly packed up the accomodation tents and kitchen. We moved across the runway to the old sauna tent for the last two days, and were made welcome by the Russian helicopter pilots and runway maintenance folks with great meals.

[Flyby over the support camp on the way home]

Heading Home

We flew out on the last Hawker Siddley charter flight back to Alert for fuel, then on down to Resolute where NPEO was staged. The Russian support crew gave us a fine farewell as we headed south. They were staying on three more days to pick up a French woman who was solo skiing from Russia to the Pole.