National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce

PMEL launches innovative new autonomous platforms in the Chukchi Sea using NOAA’s Twin Otter aircraft

A satellite view of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas on 19 May 2016, showing an exceptionally early and rapid sea-ice retreat along the Alaskan coast.

June 07, 2016

On June 5th, the Arctic Heat Open Science Experiment (Arctic Heat) began over the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, in the Alaskan Arctic, to collect data to support sea ice and weather forecasting. PMEL will be leading flights aboard a specially-outfitted NOAA Twin Otter aircraft that will be operating during the summer to launch autonomous floats, MRV’s Air-Launched Autonomous Micro-Observer “ALAMO”, and to rapidly collect data over a wide area.

The Chukchi Sea and other seasonally ice-free marginal seas are among the most challenging regions to study because for much of the year the sea ice is not stable enough to deploy equipment on and it can easily wreak havoc on most instruments in the water. Ships and satellites only provide limited access to this domain, and so the progress of research is impeded by the lack of observations.

Arctic Heat is a joint effort of NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) Arctic Research, the Innovative Technology for Arctic Exploration (ITAE) program, the ALAMO development group at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) at the University of Washington. 

PMEL Project: