Polar OBuoy – the movie

The position of OBuoy#2 seen in the movie below

An engineer who helped deploy “obuoys” in the Arctic submitted this story, but wishes to remain nameless since he feels that he’ll be ostracized for sharing here. I’ll respect his wishes, and pass along the information. He writes via the “submit story” feature in the WUWT header:

I’ve had a small part in getting a series of buoys ready for arctic deployment and a few have been successfully sent out already.  They are very large and take met data, O3 and BrO data (looking for O3 depletions), CO2 data, and as an afterthought a simple webcam was thrown on board.

This last bit I thought several people might be interested in.  The only buoy that is currently deployed (and not sitting on the ocean floor) is near the Beaufort.  See a movie of the last three months of webcam images here:

Initially the webcam only took one image a day, but with the ice breaking up the PI’s decided to increase that to once an hour.  Towards the end you can really see ice flowing back and forth a distance away from the buoy, and it is clear the buoy is free-floating in a melt pond.

You can monitor this buoy and others, once they deploy, through this interface: http://obuoy.datatransport.org/monitor

The head principal investigator is Dr. Paty Matrai: http://www.bigelow.org/research/srs/paty_matrai/paty_matrai_laboratory/

Here is a movie on the deployment:

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71 thoughts on “Polar OBuoy – the movie

  1. This will sound obtuse, but I thank old-school NASA for the ability to keep cameras like this powered in such extreme environments and take this wonderful data. Here’s hoping we can have more sensors up there.

  2. Anthony:
    Is there an issue or are we simply being alerted to a new source of data, especially the state of sea ice?

  3. One of the graphs under the GPS tab for each buoy is speed — expressed in “m/s” if my eyes aren’t deceiving me. With a range of 100-400 shown, for #s 2 & 6.
    Is that rotational speed of the earth at that latitude? Ice drift speed? 100 m/s equates to about 225 mph!!

  4. Jeff Alberts says: July 15, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Why would the person feel they would be ostracized?

    I’m left wondering the same. There seems to be nothing contentious, ice melts, I thought it does that every year…

  5. Jeff;
    For sharing insider data with the hoi-polloi, especially d******ist hoi-polloi like you and me and Anthony!
    Since it’s a fairly small group involved, I’m sure the anonymous posting will cause the group to look suspiciously at each other and semi-ostracize likely suspects anyhow! A fascinating little social psychology experiment and intervention …

  6. I think he meant that his peers on the project would not be happy to know that he posted to the heretical WUWT. I’m glad he did.

  7. Jeff Alberts says:
    July 15, 2011 at 7:50 am
    Why would the person feel they would be ostracized?

    They probably feared to be in any way connected to the number 1 science blog and the most viewed climate website on the planet.

    Climate science is about belief. You need to believe AGW is real and a clear and present danger to the planet to be a climate scientist. If you visit WUWT you will be exposes to skeptical science, which has no place in belief based science. Contributing to WUWT is clear evidence you as a climate scientist have been contaminated by doubt and must be isolated to prevent the infection from spreading to other climate scientists.

    Great video. Quite a contrast to Gavin’s science movie. Good to see someone is still doing science. Now we know why the shuttle program is cancelled and why NASA plans to de-orbit and destroy the ISS. So that folks like Gavin can be paid by the taxpayers to maintain the RC website where “real scientists discuss real science”. Indeed. Since the science is settled, what is there left to discuss?

  8. Within the scientific and academic community, simply posting here could be perceived as a threat by some.
    Scientists can be remarkably protective of their “territory”, and defensive. You’d be amazed at some of the things that can trigger career ending attacks.

  9. Interesting! The time lapse movie shows long periods of little ice movement interspersed with periods of fairly rapid change in the ice pack topography. When the wind occasionally blows hard, the ice really moves around.

    Reminds me of spring ‘ice out’, on the large lakes of Wisconsin. If a hard blow coincided with the lake ice being just ‘rotten’ enough and the wind was aligned with the longest fetch down a large lake, the shore line on the down wind end could end up with massive piles of ice driven ashore! I remember areas of shoreline peeled back like a bulldozer had hit it, shoreline trees pushed over, and woe to any cottages that were built ‘too close’ to that shoreline! It happened rarely… but when it happened, it was a sight to behold!

  10. The engineer who triggered this post had written: “The only buoy that is currently deployed (and not sitting on the ocean floor) is near the Beaufort.

    Er, so how many of these OBuoy gadgets are now “sitting on the ocean floor” and therefore incapable of either reporting as designed or being recovered, anyway?

    Could this be why the reporting engineer feared that he would “be ostracized for sharing here” on WUWT?

    I don’t think we’ve gotten the full story on this warmist “research” effort yet.

  11. ” The only buoy that is currently deployed (and not sitting on the ocean floor)”

    What is the ocean floor bit about?

  12. Enjoyed both videos. Thanks for sharing them.
    But why do we see the legend “CO2 CLIMATE CHANGE” popping up on the second one?
    Is it a subliminal attempt to reinforce the fallacy?

  13. Interesting. By the way, a melt pond is something different from open ocean / a polyanna. It is literally a small lake or pond that forms from melting snow atop the ice (and perhaps some of the upper layers of ice). I’ve long wondered if satellite based ice cover measurements counted melt ponds as open ocean, which would artificially deflate the ice coverage figure.

  14. SteveSadlov says:
    July 15, 2011 at 9:51 am

    > By the way, a melt pond is something different from open ocean / a polyanna

    which is different from a polynya, I trust. :-)

  15. Knowing heavy ocean ice , the power of wind shifting ice and current, I tend to believe most of the OBuoy were crushed by wind aided ice. I’ve seen steel ship ripped apart by that power and sunk in minutes. Ice ridges, caused by wind and current aided ice can pile on one another over time and reach all the way down to the ocean bottom. It is not unusual for OBuoy to be crushed and driven to the bottom of ice ridges. After all you have the power of hundreds of miles of moving ice piling up on a ridge driving ice below the surface on those ridges. Crushing OBuoys is child’s play to that power. I’m actually surprised one OBuoy survived at all. And I’m betting that one bites the depths before this year comes to a close.

  16. Apparently only a few are deployed each summer. Two this year. A tube in the ice holds the electronics, a mast carries sensors and solar panels, and a flotation collar helps when the ice melts. It’s rather obvious what happens to the cylindrical flotation collar and circuitry tube when the wind piles up ice around and over it.

    http://www.o-buoy.org/

  17. “it is clear the buoy is free-floating in a melt pond.”
    I wonder…
    Did the buoy cause the melt pond?
    Do the measurements get altered because of the melt pond?

  18. “SteveSadlov says:
    July 15, 2011 at 9:51 am
    Interesting. By the way, a melt pond is something different from open ocean / a polyanna. It is literally a small lake or pond that forms from melting snow atop the ice (and perhaps some of the upper layers of ice). I’ve long wondered if satellite based ice cover measurements counted melt ponds as open ocean, which would artificially deflate the ice coverage figure.”

    My memory is that the satellite sensors have difficulty telling even a thin layer of water on top of ice, as there would be with quick melting, from open water. Hence some of the qualifications in the ice extent data.

    My understanding is that ice blows around, perhaps gets pushed around by currents as well.

    Indeed ice piles up, that’s a known challenge in measuring thickness and amount of ice (area not being volume exactly).

  19. I’ve tuned in to the “North Pole Camera” for years. (It now can be found on the WUWT “Sea Ice” Side-bar) It’s interesting to watch the degree of thawing, day by day. Occationally you can see a lead form, or a pressure ridge buckle up in the distance. I’m not sure whether it qualifies as an “o-buoy” or not.

    This year they had bad luck with the camera. It swiftly tilted to a 45 degree angle, and you get a crick in your neck viewing it. Last year, however, they picked a pretty good spot. A small lead opened up in the mid distance, but refroze as winter came on. The camera shut down as the sun set, perhaps because it was solar powered.

    I wonder if anyone knows what became of last year’s camera? If it didn’t get sucked south and plunked into the sea, during the winter, is there any way of turning the camera back on?

  20. Beautiful movie! I’d love to sit there with a Caipirinha in my hand and enjoy the red hot arctics.

  21. “The only buoy that is currently deployed (and not sitting on the ocean floor) is near the Beaufort.”

    Maybe the buoy constructor ought to be exchanged for a new one.

  22. Why would the person feel they would be ostracized?
    Remember… “Your views on climate change, as I understand them, are not aligned with those of my administration. In light of my position and due to the confusion surrounding your role with the state, I am directing you to offer any future statements on this or other public policy matters only on behalf of yourself or the University of Delaware, and not as state climatologist.”governor Ruth Ann Minner .
    David Legates Asked To Step Down As Delaware State Climatologist.
    From: David R. Legates
    Date: Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 10:48 AM
    Subject: New State Climatologist
    Dear All,
    I want to notify you of a change in the Office of the Delaware State
    Climatologist. I have been asked by our Dean’s office to step down and
    the former Deputy Dean, Dr. Daniel J. Leathers, will be reassuming the
    title of the Delaware State Climatologist. He will be representing the
    Office in Asheville and I hope you will welcome him.
    I thank you for the opportunity to serve as the Delaware State
    Climatologist for the last seven years and to work alongside each of you.
    Sincerely,
    David R. Legates

  23. I wonder if the buoy has a gyro system to keep it oriented in a fixed direction when it is free-floating, so that the symmer sun flying by represents the rotation of the earth, or if it is free to spin when floating. Does anyone know?

  24. tchannon says: July 15, 2011 at 9:23 am
    ” The only buoy that is currently deployed (and not sitting on the ocean floor)”
    What is the ocean floor bit about?
    —————————————————————
    It means there’s only one still working. The others sank to the ocean floor. Buoys are supposed to be…………… buoyant. That’s a tough environment to design equipment for. The moving ice crushes ships rather easily.

  25. I had to chuckle at the accent in pronouncing “buoy”. We would say this word the same as “boy”, and “Oh boy…” is usually followed by something like “…are you in trouble now!”

  26. As a rootin’-tootin’ socialist thinking green I think it’s neat that someone posted something related to the real world here. Shame it doesn’t happen more often.

  27. Hu McCulloch says:
    I wonder if the buoy has a gyro system to keep it oriented in a fixed direction when it is free-floating, so that the symmer sun flying by represents the rotation of the earth, or if it is free to spin when floating. Does anyone know?

    Seems to me that if it were spinning, that hill in the foreground wouldn’t remain in the same basic place in the picture. Also, you wouldn’t have the shadows changing like you do if the apparent motion of the sun were due to the buoy spinning. I would say it’s a pretty safe bet that the camera is, indeed, maintaining its orientation.

  28. ‘Why would the person feel they would be ostracized?’

    WUWT is the most popular science blog in the western world and the views of sceptics and heretics can be read any day of the week, so he thought it prudent…..

  29. It occurs to me if no one else, that the rest of the O-buoys are obviously sitting on the ocean floor since the ice floes on which they were deployed melted away to nothingness, leaving them with no support. (The buoys are, after all, ice-tethered, and not intended to float atop the water.)

  30. Buoy oh buoy… Anthony, this video provided to you underscores the reach of WUWT. You and your great site are respected — or hated! — both for the same reasons! Keep up the great work!

  31. Jay says:
    July 15, 2011 at 1:43 pm
    As a rootin’-tootin’ socialist thinking green I think it’s neat that someone posted something related to the real world here. Shame it doesn’t happen more often. )))

    Aahhh!! THC content.. The real world for rootin’-tootin’ socialist thinking greens
    cheers.

  32. Cool…

    At the end when the weather clears I was watching as the sun whirled around and around. As I watched I realized, of course the sun isn’t going around, the Earth is rotating. Suddenly things flipped and I was spinning and spinning and started to feel a bit of nausea.

    I liked to watch the water pools growing over time…time lapse photography is very cool sometimes.

    MikeEE

  33. Dan in California says:
    July 15, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks Dan, video is inaccessible otherwise I might have worked it out.

  34. I’ve always pronounce buoy as “boo-ee”.

    Thanks for the explanations about ostracizing. I kind of figured that, but since no opinion was given about AGW one way or the other…

  35. If you explore the other OBouys, you’ll find
    #2 deployed
    #3 web cam running, shows what appears to be onshore, snow cover
    #4 web cam running pointed skyward, no GPS data
    #5 is still on the workshop floor, only the web cam on, showing under the trestle bench
    #6 is still on the workshop floor, web cam running, showing under the trestle bench, GPS on but indicates in Vermont US
    These units will be an interesting source of near real time information if all are deployed.
    The address shown for Bigelow Research is 180 McKown Point Road,
    West Boothbay Harbour Maine.
    This is not available for onground views on Google Maps, but adjacent areas are.
    Is there some security status on this area ?

  36. MikeEE says:
    July 15, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Cool…

    At the end when the weather clears I was watching as the sun whirled around and around. As I watched I realized, of course the sun isn’t going around, the Earth is rotating. Suddenly things flipped and I was spinning and spinning and started to feel a bit of nausea.

    Reminded me of scenes in H. G. Wells’, The Time Machine.

  37. I see the temperature over the last month reported by that buoy matches the DMI re-analysis pretty well:

    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

    They smash up the ice in the Beaufort Sea with an icebreaker whilst deploying these buoys every year and then wonder why CO2 is affecting the Arctic environment.

    Anyone else see the irony there?

    If you put a cracks into brittle material they tend to propagate.

  38. Why call them buoys if they don’t float. According to agw people the ice is almost gone and the poorly designed buoy would have to float or it would sink . Stupid people to call a non-floating object a buoy.Ahh-I forget- it was a”team event” That explains it. They are always right no matter. If I had not lived on bell buoy st. at one time -hell, I might not have been able to spell buoy, much less know how to spell it as most of my mail I recieved spelled it bouy. Boy!! I love this site.

  39. with all this information I am starting to think that I am a climate scientist and I am thinking of applying for a very large grant so i can watch the cam full time

  40. Good stuff. Ice melts when the sun shines. What more proof do you need? /sarc

    An awe inspiring example of technological ability from NASA plus a sour note
    in the deployment movie with the fund raising magic icons “CO2 and CLIMATE CHANGE”.

  41. Outstanding video.

    and as an afterthought a simple webcam was thrown on board.

    Not as simple as the garbage on most consumer PC’s. I would like to know what brand and specs on that simple webcam ;-)

  42. Jay says:
    July 15, 2011 at 1:43 pm
    As a rootin’-tootin’ socialist thinking green I think it’s neat that someone posted something related to the real world here. Shame it doesn’t happen more often.

    Garethman says

    Hey Jay, you are not the only one by a long chalk. This site is not the LLandewibrefi of green socialists, far from it. We may not like some of the politics, but it’s the only major climate site that allows free debate on climate without condemnation by moderators. Personally I think there are rather more articles posted here which support green activism and challenge runaway capitalism than maybe they are given credit for.

  43. From Jeff Alberts on July 15, 2011 at 6:11 pm:

    I’ve always pronounce buoy as “boo-ee”.

    Must have sounded strange to hear you talk of “Life-boo-ee” soap.

    Wait… Did you go full-French and call it “Le-fee-boo-ee zo-ap”?

  44. Latitude wonders “Was it really necessary to put out the cones?”

    Strangely there were no “watch your step” notices around.

  45. And the implications of this information are?

    Or is it just data.

  46. Some people must only read about every third word. What’s with this “sinking” nonsense? From the caption under the picture (those are words explaining the scene, if you’re not familiar with the term): “the buoy is free-floating in a melt pond.” Free-floating means supported by water only. This is the opposite of “sinking”.

    Have I ‘splained it clearly enuf for yiz?

  47. Caleb,

    Northpole Webcam #1 has the 45 degree tilt. Northpole webcam #2 has been much more interesting to follow – large melt pond in the field of view with moving ice and pressure ridges appearing and disappearing. There are also stadia rods visible so that it’s easy to gauge the melt. It’s also had more sun – so the pictures reveal more detail. http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/latest/noaa2.jpg

  48. Brian H: GPS doesn’t get velocity directly, it derives it from position and time, and it has a position uncertainty due to timing errors. The uncertainty is inherent in the system, which is dependent on very, very accurate timing; “selective availability” (when used) just accentuates the natural effect.

    High latitudes, with all the satellites near the horizon, are the worst case. The range to the satellites and the fraction of the path traveling through atmosphere are at the maximum, so the errors tend to be larger than normal. Even in the mid-latitudes, where the accuracy is best, it’s common to see momentary velocities of a meter per second or so in a fixed GPS receiver. That number doesn’t look all that far out of line for a receiver in the Arctic.

    Regards,
    Ric

  49. TimTheToolMan says:
    July 16, 2011 at 3:08 am

    Latitude wonders “Was it really necessary to put out the cones?”

    Strangely there were no “watch your step” notices around.
    =========================================================
    Makes you wonder……….
    and these are the guys doing ‘science’

  50. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    July 16, 2011 at 2:06 am

    Must have sounded strange to hear you talk of “Life-boo-ee” soap.
    Wait… Did you go full-French and call it “Le-fee-boo-ee zo-ap”?

    We don’t speak of such things.

  51. From Jeff Alberts on July 16, 2011 at 10:16 am:

    We don’t speak of such things.

    You don’t talk about soap?
    ‘Nuff said, never mind.

    ;-)

  52. I get the impression that, although the buoy video is excellent, some of the basics of the OBuoy program have not been explained. They may be familiar to the (understandably) anonymous original poster, and perhaps some others, but could I request a simple – quick and dirty – explanation.
    Are the OBuoys on the ice [and sink if it melts] – or not?
    The second video looks as if they’re put down an icehole, which may ice up again – but float at first. Ice can destroy ships, as already noted.
    Do they have some gyro stabilisation?
    There probably are other queries, too.
    As this site is very widely read, such basic background would be welcome!

  53. RE: Kevin O’Neill says:
    July 16, 2011 at 4:42 am

    Thanks. Great webcam of the arctic.

    In New England the word “buoy” has always been two sylables, ranging from “Bow-ee” up in Maine to “Boo-ee” down on Cape Cod. Of course, with kids watching hundreds of “Life-boy” soap commercials, and parents so busy working they can hardly speak to their kids, the old accents are fading away, replaced by a sort of generic accent.

    In parts of the deep south I’ve heard the word “boy” drawled out to a degree where it is either two sylables, or one very long sylable. (Say, “good old boy,” with southern irony.)

  54. I kept looking for the polar bears, but didn’t see any. I guess they must realy be extinct.

  55. Greg Cavanagh says:
    July 17, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    I kept looking for the polar bears, but didn’t see any. I guess they must realy be extinct.

    Nope, they held a conference and reached a consensus that penguins were more plentiful and easier to catch than seals, and they’re now en route swimming to Antarctica. They plan to arrive when the chicks are just hatching so they can gorge on them and their loyal parents, stuck up on the ice.

  56. Oh boy, OBuoy2 is no more.
    It toppled over July 22, which knocked out the Ozone/CO2 sensors and the battery heat sensor. The remainder of it’s systems went down July 23.
    Neven’s Arctic Ice Blog did a good story on it (and on the end of the NOAA North Pole camera’s as well):

    http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2011/07/death-of-a-webcam.html#tp

    Also note that after Anthony’s post here, the Obuoy2 movie recorded 8 days of spectacular changes around it. The melting ponds growing larger by the hour (especially when the Arctic sun is at it’s highest (behind the camera)), leads widening, the ice floe it’s on cracked and went on the move, bumped into something, and in the final hours the bouy tilts over and faces the sky. Here is the whole thing :

    [video src="http://obuoy.datatransport.org/data/obuoy/var/plots/buoy2/camera/buoy2-movie.mp4" /]

    Thank Anthony for posting the this story about Obuoy2. I think it’s the most awesome video ever shot of melting sea ice. I just wonder why it toppled over and did not simply stay afloat upright.

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