Robust wavebuoys for the marginal ice zone: Experiences from a large persistent array in the Beaufort Sea

An array of novel directional wavebuoys was designed and deployed into the Beaufort Sea ice cover in March 2014, as part of the Office of Naval Research Marginal Ice Zoneexperiment.

The buoys were designed to drift with the ice throughout the year and monitor the expected breakup and retreat of the ice cover, forced by waves travelling into the ice from open water. Buoys were deployed from fast-and-light air-supported ice camps, based out of Sachs Harbour on Canada’s Banks Island, and drifted westwards with the sea ice over the course of spring, summer and autumn, as the ice melted, broke up and finally re-froze.

The buoys transmitted heave, roll and pitch timeseries at 1 Hz sample frequency over the course of up to eight months, surviving both convergent ice dynamics and significant waves-in-ice events. Twelve of the 19 buoys survived until their batteries were finally exhausted during freeze-up in late October/November. Ice impact was found to have contaminated a significant proportion of the Kalman-filter-derived heave records, and these bad records were removed with reference to raw x/y/z accelerations. The quality of magnetometer-derived buoy headings at the very high magnetic field inclinations close to the magnetic pole was found to be generally acceptable, except in the case of four buoys which had probably suffered rough handling during transport to the ice.

In general, these new buoys performed as expected, though vigilance as to the veracity of the output is required.

Authors:

Doble, M.J., J.P. Wilkinson, L. Valcic, J. Robst, A. Tait, M. Preston, J.-R. Bidlot, B. Hwang, T. Maksym, and P. Wadhams

ELEMENTA Science of the Anthropocene 5
08, 22, 2017
Pages: Article 47, 16pp
DOI: 10.1525/elementa.233