Arctic Observing Experiment – An Assessment of Instruments Used to Monitor the Polar Environments

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Ignatius G Rigor1, Jim Johnson1, Pablo Clemente-Colon2,3, Son V Nghiem4, Dorothy K Hall5, John Edward Woods3, Todd Alan Valentic6, Gina R Henderson3, Chris Marshall7, Champika Gallage7, Julia Zook3 and Zachary Davis3, (1)Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States, (2)National Ice Center, Washington, DC, United States, (3)US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD, United States, (4)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States, (5)NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, Greenbelt, MD, United States, (6)SRI International El Granada, El Granada, CA, United States, (7)Environment Canada Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
To understand and predict weather and climate require an accurate observing network that measures the fundamental meteorological parameters: temperature, air pressure, and wind. Measuring these parameters autonomously in the polar regions is especially challenging. To assess the accuracy of polar measurement networks, we established the Arctic Observing Experiment (AOX) test site in March 2013 at the Department of Energy (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation and Meteorology (ARM) site in Barrow, Alaska. We deployed a myriad of data loggers and autonomous buoys, which represent most of the instruments that are commonly deployed by the International Arctic Buoy Programme (IABP) to measure temperature, air pressure and wind. Estimates of temperature over this area have also been analyzed from satellites (e.g., using the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) ice-surface temperature (IST)) product, and can complement data from in-situ sensors and provide consistent measurements under clear-sky conditions. Preliminary results reveal that some of the buoys are susceptible to solar heating, icing can block barometers for short periods, and frosting may insulate air temperature sensors and freeze-lock anemometers. Some of these issues may be addressed by simply painting the buoys white to reduce solar heating of the buoys, and using better temperature shields and barometer ports. Nevertheless, frosting of ultrasonic and mechanical anemometers remains a significant challenge. These results will be useful to initiate a protocol to obtain accurate and consistent measurements from the IABP, the Arctic Observing Network (AON), the International Program for Antarctic Buoys, and the Southern Ocean Observing System to monitor polar environments.