Current Projects - Ice Detection Buoy

Schematic of the ice detection buoy

Schematic of the proposed ice detection buoy with surface float containing Iridium satellite communications and burn wire, inductive cable with 4 microCAT CTDs, floatation, and bottom weight with acoustic release assembly.

Note: This is an obsolete page. The official page is hosted by AOOS.


The freeze up buoy was deployed Sept. 6, 2015 at 7:30 am AKST at 71° 36.328' N, 161° 27.532' W in 44 m of water. Sensors are reporting back in real-time via satellite, and are available for viewing on the temporary data display page.


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: