National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2014

Measuring ocean bottom pressure at the North Pole

Peralta-Ferriz, C., J.H. Morison, S.E. Stalin, and C. Meinig

Mar. Technol. Soc. J., 48(5), 52–68, doi: 10.4031/MTSJ.48.5.11 (2014)

High-precision deep Arctic Bottom Pressure Recorders (ABPRs) were developed to measure ocean bottom pressure variations in the perennial ice-covered Arctic Ocean. The ABPRs use the tsunami detection DART acoustic modem technology and have been programmed to store and transmit the data acoustically without the need to recover the instrument. ABPRs have been deployed near the North Pole, where the ice cover is a year-round challenge for access with a ship. Instead, the ABPRs have been built as light-weight mechanical systems that we can install using aircraft landing on the ice. ABPRs have provided the first records of uninterrupted pressure data over continuous years ever made in the central Arctic. The ABPR data have allowed us to identify and understand modes of Arctic Ocean bottom pressure variability that were unknown before the ABPR records and have offered new means of investigating and understanding the rapidly changing Arctic system. The ABPR records have also shown outstanding agreement with the satellite-sensed ocean bottom pressure anomalies from GRACE, providing ground truth data for validation of the satellite system. Due to the successful science findings as well as the ABPRs' capability to fulfill the upcoming potential gaps of pressure measurements between GRACE and a GRACE follow-on mission, we highlight the urgent need to develop and maintain an Arctic observing network using ABPRs.

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