The Collaborative O-Buoy Project: Deployment of a Network of Arctic Ocean Chemical Sensors for the IPY and Beyond
Basic Project Information
The Arctic Ocean is a rapidly changing and hostile environment: remote and, at times, inaccessible;
air temperatures as low as -50°C; months of darkness; a sea ice cover that is constantly moving and deforming; pervasive moisture during the melt season; drifting snow and marauding mammals. These conditions make any observation difficult, but pose particular difficulties for autonomous sensors. To date, most long-term Arctic atmospheric observations, and in particular most chemistry data, have been collected on land, although the Arctic Ocean and its sea ice cover modify the climate and atmospheric composition of the entire region. It is known that surface chemistry involving sea salt results in destruction of ozone (O3) and elementary mercury (Hg) at the surface during spring time in the Arctic. However, due to the logistics challenge of long term measurements, there have been very few such measurements of O3 or other chemical species in the atmosphere above the Arctic Ocean surface (except from satellites and aircraft). Because of new developments in instrumentation, power management, and instrumentation control, there is a new opportunity to realize this goal through development of robust, unattended, self-contained and autonomous buoys.
Long-term, ocean-based atmospheric data sets are needed to quantify seasonal and interannual variability in a fast changing ice field that will vary in different regions of the Arctic Ocean. To further this goal, the project will integrate 3 different chemical measurement instruments aimed at key gases, into weather-tight, self-powered, ice-tethered buoys; two of these specialized buoys will be field tested at Barrow, Alaska. This development will improve understanding of the fundamental chemical and physical processes, and improve the understanding of how atmosphere-surface interactive processes respond to Arctic System-wide changes in physical and climatic conditions. The O-Buoy instrument package will initially consist of three sensors: 1) a MAX-DOAS BrO instrument, 2) an O3 detector, and 3) a CO2 analyzer.
In year 1 an autonomous buoy will be developed with instruments that are robust, low power, with a data/power/instrument control management system package that allows computer control for periodic operation, and data transmission via the Iridium satellite system. It year 2 and 3 there will be initial testing and refinement at Barrow, Alaska. To achieve this goal, we plan on coordination with collaborating researchers as part of the Ocean-Atmosphere-Sea Ice-Snowpack (OASIS) program, http://www.oasishome.net.