A Real-Time Sensor System for Detecting Freeze-up on Arctic Shelves

Project Description

There is considerable interest in the offshore exploration, and possible development, of hydrocarbon resources in Alaska's Chukchi and Beaufort shelf seas. Drilling activity can only proceed during the open water season, with the extent of that season dictated by sea ice formation, as determined by federal permitting agencies. Federal agencies and the oil and gas industry require an accurate method of predicting sea ice formation since a premature or delayed cessation of marine operations based on inaccuracies in either model predictions or satellite detection of sea ice formation could be costly and have implications for the safety of offshore operations. The goal of this project is to develop and test an economical sensor package, using existing sensors in a new manner, which would then be used operationally by a variety of stakeholders needing accurate predictions of the onset of fall ice formation. The proposed sensor system serves several purposes:* It provides real-time data on the vertical temperature and salinity structure of the shelf so that agency permitting agencies, and stakeholders, including the oil and gas industry and subsistence users, will know when offshore sea ice formation begins. * The data can be used to evaluate and refine NOAA and NWS sea ice forecast models (both existing models and those under development), which depend upon accurately predicting the seasonal evolution of the thermohaline structure of the ocean. * The data obtained from this sensor system could be useful in guiding remote sensing algorithms for frazil ice detection, a notoriously difficult process for remote sensing platforms.

Project Funding

US IOOS - Integrated Ocean Observing System
Start Date: 2017-06-00 End Date: 0000-00-00

Research Team

Principal Investigator

picture of Peter Winsor

Peter Winsor

Associate Professor
  • Alaska Ocean Observing System
  • Physical Oceanography
(907) 474-7740
Full Profile

Co-Principal Investigator

picture of Thomas Weingartner

Thomas Weingartner

Professor Emeritus
  • Physical Oceanography
  • Physical oceanography of Alaskan continental shelves and slopes.
  • Interdisciplinary marine research
  • Wind- and buoyancy-forced shelf circulation systems
(907) 474-7993
Full Profile

Co-Principal Investigators

Molly McCammon, Alaska Ocean Observing System
907-644-6703, mccammon@aoos.org

Andy Sybrandy, Pacific Gyre
760-433-6300, asybrandy@pacificgyre.com

Research Staff

Elizabeth Dobbins, 907-474-5961, eldobbins@alaska.edu

Back to Top