Sea-Ice Mass Balance Buoys

SRSL has a long history of developing, building and deploying innovative instrumentation in remote and difficult environments. Our marine technology team have a number of areas of particular expertise: the development of a variety of intelligent buoys or drifters. 
These buoys have combined technologies such as GPS, satellite communications and advanced low power microprocessors in order to collect a wide range of environmental data sets from the oceans and the poles. The team is also experienced in implementing novel sensing techniques and the mechanical design of robust and easily deployable buoys which can withstand severe marine and climatic conditions. Another area of considerable activity is sensor integration onto existing platforms, such as autonomous vehicles and moored-profilers.
Below are the details of an on-going technology development project at SRSL which is focused on measuring sea ice mass balance or ice thickness:

Sea-ice mass balance buoys

Development and production of sea-ice mass balance buoys (SIMBA units), Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) 2013

SRSL design and manufacture novel autonomous ice mass balance buoys (IMBs) for monitoring sea-ice cover in the Arctic/Antarctic. This measurement is achieved by deployment of a network of our reliable and affordable autonomous SIMB units (Sea Ice Mass Balance). This instrument from SRSL is a novel autonomous platform and sensor that monitors temperature profiles in ice and snow using a chain of inexpensive digital temperature chip sensors. The unit is capable of resolving material interfaces (e.g. air-snow and ice-ocean boundaries) and ultimately monitors the thickness of sea-ice. The instrument is small, low-cost and easy to deploy. The devices incorporate data telemetry (via Iridium SBD) and have in-built GPS for tracking sea-ice movement.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) have purchased many of the SRSL units and have now deployed the device in the Baltic Sea for the first time.

Each SIMB is equipped with a 5m long thermistor chain with high spatial resolution sensor interval of 2cm; GPS and iridium data transmission system. The thermistor chain is deployed vertically through air/snow/ice and water. The direct measurements from SIMB are vertical temperature profiles of air, snow, ice and water; the GPS location (every 2 hours) where the measurements were made. The temperature profile can be used to detect the evolution of air/snow, snow/ice and ice/water interfaces so the snow and ice thickness could be retrieved. This GPS data can be used to monitor the ice drift. The temperature measurements were made four times a day (One can setup the system to have more frequently measurements if needed). The iridium data transmission was made 1-2 times a day. A web interface is currently available for experts to interpret the real time measurements and validate the results, in particular the snow and ice thicknesses. The life time for SIMB varies, largely depending on weather condition and batteries capacity. The design life is usually 6 months. The SIMB is still largely a prototype device. It is, however, being rapidly adopted by the ice research community due to its compact and cost cutting design.

The SIMBs, in FMI, have been tested in Sodankylä Orajärvi lake in winter 2009/2010 and deployed successfully in winter 2011/2012. This winter two SIMB were deployed in the Baltic Sea (south of Hailuoto island, and Kokkola coast guard station). The SIMBs were deployed on the land fast ice zone.  "We intended to keep the buoys on track by local sea ice observers and to continue operate them in the ice as long as possible. We need to validate the measurements first. We have plan to utilize this device all together with numerical sea ice model to produce real time snow and ice monitoring for the Baltic Sea and also the long term sea ice forecasts" the Finnish Meteorological Institute researcher Bin Cheng says.

Our Project Experience (Marine Services)



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