Year-round under-ice research on MOSAiC using a remotely operated vehicle

Christian.Katlein [ at ]


To provide easy and reliable access to the underside of the sea-ice during the MOSAiC expedition, the Alfred-Wegener-Institute will operate its new remotely operated vehicle during the full duration of the drift directly from an access hole on the ice. The vehicle has proven its capabilities during several Arctic field campaigns and provides a stable sensor platform, as well as inspection and intervention capabilities. It has a maximum range of 300m from the designated access hole(s) and a depth rating of 100m. The ROV operations under sea ice will allow repeat measurements during the entire drift with little impact to the sea ice, the upper ocean, the ecosystem and other objects of interest. In the current setup, the vehicle comprises various video cameras, a still camera, single and multibeam bathymetric sonar, scanning sonar, a CTD, triplet fluorometer as well as sensors for hyperspectral irradiance, radiance, extinction, dissolved oxygen, pH and nitrate. The vehicle position is recorded by acoustic positioning tied into the floe fixed reference frame of all observations on the central observatory floe. Beyond this, the vehicle also provides several additional power outlets and data ports that allow connecting additional systems to the vehicle. Currently, the integration of a current profiler (ADCP), a zooplankton camera, different nets for zooplankton sampling, as well as a water sampling system are under development. All data are recorded, timestamped on site, and will be uploaded to an open data portal, which will be easily accessible for the scientific community. The main task of the vehicle will be repeated mapping of the spatial variability of the various parameters on a weekly basis. In addition, we plan to use it for deployment and retrieval of under-ice sensor packages and perform inspection and manipulation tasks. The ROV operations can easily be conducted by a small on-board sea-ice team due to the reliable and redundant system architecture. Altogether, measurements give a comprehensive picture of the spatio-temporal evolution of the sea-ice and its associated ecosystem. They link upper ocean dynamics with the thermodynamic and dynamic development of the ice cover. In combination with surface measurements, like aerial photography and terrestrial laser scanning, a full 3D characterization of the local ice cover will enable areal upscaling of the obtained results also using remote sensing data. Ideally these high resolution measurements at the MOSAiC central observatory will be extended with regular missions of an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), which can travel longer distances in spite of a small logistical footprint, to tie the local observations into the context of the larger spatial scale of the MOSAiC distributed measurement network.

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Conference (Poster)
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MOSAiC workshop @ Arctic Science Summit Week, Prag.
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Katlein, C. , Nicolaus, M. , Flores, H. , Lange, B. , Hildebrandt, N. , Niehoff, B. , Fong, A. and Rabe, B. (2017): Year-round under-ice research on MOSAiC using a remotely operated vehicle , MOSAiC workshop @ Arctic Science Summit Week, Prag .

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