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
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.