I've been learning more and more about Arctic sea ice buoys and thought you too may be interested in learning alongside me. On our upcoming expedition in early April we will be deploying drifting buoys in the Arctic Ocean that will be monitored through the International Arctic Buoy Program (IABP). I've been exploring current buoy data to better understand where the buoys are located using the Observing System Monitoring Center (OSMC), an international data center as well as the IABP Daily Map. I'm not an expert yet by any means, but it has been super interesting digging into the data; especially because these data tools share the data spatially, on maps, and with .kml and .kmz files you can open on Google Earth and interact with.
So far, what I'm learning is that the data parameters are fairly simple and straightforward: air temperature, water temperature, air pressure, position and time of day. Yet it is the deployment to such remote locations that is rather complex. And I can imagine the process of sending the data points every 5 minutes through satellites to the international weather forecasting centers must be a bit complex.
The MOSAic Expedition has also deployed buoys on the sea ice that are included in the IABP data sets. In October 2019, researchers on the MOSAiC expedition deployed three SIMB buoys through the frigid Arctic sea ice. SIMB stands for Seasonal Ice Mass Balance. They are a different type of buoy than those we plan to deploy, yet they measure very similar weather parameters. The SIMB buoys will collect data like air pressure, air temperature, ice thickness, and more during the MOSAiC expedition drifting along with the sea ice.
I'm learning that the buoys in the ocean come in all different shapes, sizes, and kinds. Most float on top of or within the water and either drift with the currents or are anchored in one place. Different buoys are equipped with different kinds of instruments to measure different things.
After digging into the data portals and trying to understand how all this works, I've started to realize just how complex data sharing is across international institutions and agencies. I've learned just enough to understand that not every country shares data in a similar format so combining it into one platform or one data chart is tough. Also, some countries don't share their data at all. And it is this data from the Arctic Ocean that is incredibly important to daily weather forecasts around the Northern Hemisphere.
On this wild journey of learning... more next week!