Alaska’s North Slope is often associated with cold weather, permafrost and oil production, however it is a diverse and beautiful landscape stemming northwards from the Brooks Range that supports an immense range of wildlife with its plethora of freshwater lakes. Researchers from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and the USGS, are looking at how regional changes in climate are influencing seasonal dynamics of freezing and thawing in arctic lakes. Evidence suggests that thinner ice growth in response to warmer, snowier winters is pushing many bedfast ice lakes to floating ice regimes. If such a regime shift becomes pervasive across lake-rich landscapes, resulting permafrost thaw and enhanced moisture and heat flux could generate positive feedbacks, further amplifying this regime change.
Shallow lakes and ponds may cover up to 40% of the land surface in Arctic lowland regions. Many of these water bodies traditionally freeze solid (bedfast ice) during the winter, preserving sublake permafrost and keeping certain nutrient stocks immobile at depth. Slightly deeper lakes maintain some liquid water beneath floating ice, causing deep thaw zones (taliks) in otherwise continuous permafrost. The Arctic Lake Ice Systems Science (ALISS) Project examines the extent and dynamics of bedfast and floating ice lakes in relation to hypothesized interactions and feedback with permafrost and climate.
ALISS scientists approached BeadedStream for a customized solution to outfit a low-footprint arctic lake buoy frame with instrumentation to transmit lake surface and sub-surface data in real-time from a series of lakes in the remote arctic. Operational monitoring ensured remote data acquisition for use in modeling efforts as well as outreach.
Alternatives to this approach would normally include in-situ logging, non-digital temperature monitoring solutions, and ultimately a higher risk of data loss.
BeadedStream’s D405 Datalogger was employed and outfitted onto the ALISS buoy to receive:
- – One air temperature DTC
- – Two separate DTCs for both lake ice profiling as well as lake-surface monitoring
- – One ultra-sonic, digital snow-stake
- – And finally, a custom 360 degree solar recharge kit allowing the buoy to spin in the water, while optimizing recharge.
In the end, ALISS scientists benefit from a customized and novel solution, built to fit their application, their budget and the rigors of the high-arctic. Further, data is captured, transmitted, stored and presented in real-time. Click HERE for a link to ALISS real-time buoy data.
The ALISS project is taking place on many lakes Alaska’s northern coastal plain; a harsh yet magnificent region representative of many arctic regions around the globe.