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.
A significant part of the Utqiaġvik Buoy Exercise 2020 is a STEM education experience for the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps that includes STEM training while building buoys for the International Arctic Buoy Program. They are engaging in three training Saturdays before the April expedition. Then they will send two representatives from their group to join the Arctic expedition to deploy the buoys they build. Read one of the Cadet's reflections from the training day here.
So, their first training class was this past Saturday and I was fortunate to be able to 'zoom in' via video conferencing and be the fly on the wall during their entire class (8am-noon EST). Below are some screen shots from the training that helped me understand what the buoys look like and the instrumentation inside. These instruments measure surface temperature, atmospheric temperature, and barometric pressure as well as date and position.
It was also great to get an Arctic introduction from Dr. Ignatius Rigor, our expedition's lead PI (Primary Investigator).
The buoys remind me of gigantic fishing bobbers that open like an easter egg. The creative juices are flowing on how to create effective education and outreach experiences about buoy data.... stay tuned.
Also, enjoy the video below.