The Arctic Environmental Drifting Buoy (AEDB) : report of field operations and results, August, 1987 - April 1988 Report uri icon


  • There are strong reasons to gather data on polar oceanogrphy and climatology in real time using fully automated, unattended instrumentation systems for long periods; particularly during the inaccessible winter months when moving ice is extremely hazardous. We deployed an Artic Environmental Drifting Buoy (AEDB) on 4 August 1987 at 86°7'N, 22°3'E off of the FS Polarstern on a large 3.7 m thick ice island. The AEDB consisted of 2 major components: a 147 cm diameter surface float housing ARGOS transmitters and a data logger for ice-profiling thermistors, and a 125 m long mooring line attached to the sphere and fed though a 1m diameter ice hole. Along the mooring were deployed 2 fluorometers, conductivity and temperature loggers, an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP), a current meter, and a time-series sediment trap/micro-filter pump/transmissometer unit. The AEDB proceeded southwesterly with the Transpolar Drift at an average speed of 15.3 km/day, with a maximum speed of 88.8 km/day. On 2 January 1988, the AEDB dropped into the water while passing through the Fram Strait and for the remaining drift period was either free-floating on the water surface or underneath the sea ice. Throughout this period, the transmitters onboard successfully transmitted position, temperature, and strain caused by ice on the sphere. Although the sediment trap package was lost during the drift, valuable data was collected by the other instruments throughout the experiment. The ice thermistor data was used to determine oceanic heat flux, while continuous ADCP observations over the Yermak Plateau provided a wealth of information for understanding internal waves in the ice-covered ocean. The buoy was recovered by the Icelandic ship R/S Arni Fridriksson on 15 April 1988 at 65°17'N, 31°38'W, off southeatern Greenland, completing 3,900km of drift in 255 days. We are in the process of constructing the next automated stations which are planned for deployment in both the north and south polar regions in 1991-92.

publication date

  • January 1990