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GOMO-Funded Project

Arctic Sea Ice Observations: Seasonal Ice Mass Balance Buoys

With the rapid decline of Arctic sea ice levels, there is a great need to understand impacts onset by these transformations amidst the shrinking timeline for necessary action. “The Arctic Change Detection project at PMEL-University of Washington/ Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies (CICOES) aims to address the impacts of sea ice disappearance on climate by leading the development of advanced model assessments to assess how sea ice/atmospheric interactions are affecting current and future climate predictions.

The project’s goals are divided into two objectives. The first is providing an up-to-date Arctic change detection activity for NOAA that includes recognition of rapidly emerging Arctic change and identification of localized and global impacts. This includes communicating these findings to NOAA and the wider community, including policy makers, fisheries managers, and the public. The second is to improve NOAA’s operational sea ice and weather forecasting capabilities, translating in-situ observations, and modeling climate impacts affecting ecosystems, communities, and infrastructure on multiple time-scales. These activities contribute to the safety and economic development in the Alaska maritime and coastal region.

About the buoys

Every September, two new ice mass balance buoys (affiliated with the Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project, the Arctic Observing Network and the International Arctic Buoy Program) are deployed in the Beaufort Sea. For this project, the team has developed a next generation Seasonal Ice Mass Balance buoy, that is a single, self-contained unit that floats to enable measurements in  younger, thinner sea ice that may not survive summer melt.

Project Data

Buoy Operation Periods

Measurements at the buoys are made every four hours and are immediately posted online. The operation periods for the buoys deployed in 2021, 2022, and 2023 are:
SIMB 2021-2: 9/04/2021– 11/07/2022
SIMB 2021-3: 9/05/2021 – 11/05/2022
SIMB 2021- 8: 03/05/2023 – present
SIMB 2021- 9: 03/05/2023 – present
SIMB 2021-10: 03/05/2023 – present
SIMB 2021-11: 03/05/2023 – present
SIMB 2022-6: 9/26/2022 – present
SIMB 2022-7: 9/25/2022 – present

Ice mass balance buoys

Current active buoys include:
SIMB 2022- 6
SIMB 2022- 7
SIMB 2021- 8
SIMB 2021- 9
SIMB 2021-10

SIMB 2021-11

Publications and Reports

  • Golden, K., L. Bennetts, E. Cherkaev, I. Eisenman, D. Feltham, C. Horvat, E. Hunke, C. Jones, D. Perovich, P. Ponte-Castaneda, C. Strong, D. Sulsky, and A. Wells, 2020, Modeling sea ice, Notices Amer. Math. Soc., 67, 1535-1554.Access
  • Mallett, R., J. Stroeve, M. Tsamados, R. Willatt, T. Newman, V. Nandan, J. Landy, P. Itkin, M. Oggier, M. Jaggi, and D. Perovich, Sub-kilometre scale distribution of snow depth on Arctic sea ice from Soviet drifting stations, J. Glaciol., 68, 271, 1014 – 1026,
  • Perovich, D. 2022. Ice mass balance buoys. Oceanography,
  • Planck, C., D. Perovich, and B. Light, 2020: A synthesis of observations and models to assess changes to sea ice mass balance in the Beaufort Sea, J Geophys. Res., 125,