Skip to main content

Library Item

Seasonal ice mass-balance buoys: adapting tools to the changing Arctic


Monitoring the local mass balance of Arctic sea ice provides opportunities to attribute the observed changes in a particular floe’s mass balance to specific forcing phenomena. A shift from multi-year to seasonal ice in large portions of the Arctic presents a challenge for the existing Lagrangian array of autonomous ice mass-balance buoys, which were designed with a perennial ice cover in mind. This work identifies the anticipated challenges of operation in seasonal ice and presents a new autonomous buoy designed to monitor ice mass balance in the seasonal ice zone. The new design presented incorporates features which allow the buoy to operate in thin ice and open water, and reduce its vulnerability to ice dynamics and wildlife damage, while enhancing ease of deployment. A test deployment undertaken from April to June 2009 is discussed and results are presented with analysis to
illustrate both the features and limitations of the buoy’s abilities.