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Proceedings of OceanObs'09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society

COMMUNITY WHITE PAPER10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.54

Autonomous Platforms in the Arctic Observing Network

Craig M. Lee(1), Humfrey Melling(2), Hajo Eicken(3), Peter Schlosser(4), Jean-Claude Gascard(5), Andrey Proshutinsky(6), Eberhard Fahrbach(7), Cecilie Mauritzen(8), James Morison(9), Igor Polykov(10)

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Autonomous platforms (e.g. floats, ice-based observatories, (IBOs) and gliders) can contribute scalable, flexible elements to the Arctic Observing Network (AON), providing access to remote, ice-covered regions and enabling persistent, sustained sampling and broad spatial coverage of the deep basins, marginal ice zone, shallow boundaries and gateways. Floats, gliders and IBOs excel at providing year-round measurements over extended (years) time periods, while their relatively modest per-platform operating costs permit deployment in quantities that are large enough to provide unprecedented spatial coverage. These platforms can be efficiently operated in large numbers and employ operating modes and logistics that can readily respond to evolving observational priorities. Autonomous instruments can be used in tandem with conventional approaches to create a sustainable AON that retains the ability to adapt to rapidly evolving environmental conditions and advances in understanding that drive shifts in observational priorities. The flexibility provided by autonomous approaches will also help the AON balance between the long-term needs of climate studies and the short-term demands of providing relevant data products to Arctic stakeholders. Recent IPY (International Polar Year) successes with autonomous technologies, such as the International Arctic Buoy Program's Pan-Arctic array, the IBO array and under-ice navigation and operation of autonomous gliders at regional scales, place the community in a position to contemplate wider adoption, though significant hurdles remain. Challenges include development of a basin-scale acoustic navigation and communications network, development of miniaturized, energy-efficient biogeochemical sensors suitable for long-term autonomous deployment and international coordination, both for support and for broad access that spans the EEZs (Exclusive Economic Zones) of the Arctic nations. The AON should exploit autonomous technologies and foster their development for Arctic applications, with an eye toward using these systems as key building blocks for the construction of a sustainable, long-term observing system.

1Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, 1013 NE 40th St, Seattle, WA 98105-6698, USA
2Institute of Ocean Sciences, 9860 West Saanich Road, PO Box 6000, Sidney V8L 4B2, B.C., Canada
3Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, 907 Yukon Dr, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA
4Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory - Columbia University, Palisades NY 10964-8000 USA
5Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 4 place Jussieu 75005 Paris, France
6Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 266 Woods Hole Road, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
7Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar und Meeresforschung, Postfach 120161, D-27515 Bremerhaven, Germany
8Norwegian Meteorological Institute, P.O.BOX 43, Blindern, N-0313 Oslo, Norway
9Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, 1013 NE 40th St 98105-6698 Seattle (US)
10International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska, 907 Yukon Dr, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to E-mail: craig@apl.washington.edu

This paper shall be cited as:

Lee, C. & Co-Authors (2010). "Autonomous Platforms in the Arctic Observing Network" in Proceedings of OceanObs’09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society (Vol. 2), Venice, Italy, 21-25 September 2009, Hall, J., Harrison, D.E. & Stammer, D., Eds., ESA Publication WPP-306, doi:10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.54

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