An Early End for NPEO/IAOOS 2014 Web Cameras

In 2014, Web Camera#1 stopped transmitting images on June 27 and #2 stopped on July 1, almost certainly eaten by pressure ridges. This was earlier than usual, but an expected part of the business of deploying Arctic data buoys. Unfortunately, this denied us a view of the late summer development of melt ponds in 2014, which created so much interest in 2013, described at The NPEO Web Cameras and Summer Melt Ponds , which even made the Colbert Report . Judging by the variation in nearby buoy relative positions, there was a lot of ice deformation in the webcam area during both May and June. Fortunately, most of the data buoys have survived, so far.

Complete 2014 image archive from NPEO web cameras
at Ice Station Barneo in April 2014.
Image times are not synchronized between the two WebCam buoys.
and weather record is available from co-located NPEO PAWS Buoy 364170.
Please credit:   North Pole Environmental Observatory, National Science Foundation

Web Camera #1 was a system built and deployed by the Polar Science Center in April 2014 at the Barneo ice camp approximately 25 miles from the North Pole as part of the NSF-funded North Pole Environmental Observatory (NPEO). It was meant to give a visual record of ice changes over the spring-summer-fall season. Ablation stakes made of plywood strips 10-cm wide and marked with alternating black and white 10-cm squares are planted in the ice near the buoy to indicate visually the amount of surface melting as the summer proceeds. The camera was about 1.5 m above the April ice surface.

2014 WebCam#1 example

This was one of the last images transmitted by WebCam#1 on 23 May 2014. It was close to the lead visible to the upper right, and we believe that day the lead closed, likely sheared, and pushed up a pressure ridge that ate the webcam buoy, pushing it onto its side and partially blocking the lens with snow and ice. It continued sending images of deteriorating quality until 27 June 2014.

Web Camera #2 was built by the Polar Science Center for the Ice-Atmosphere-Arctic Ocean Observing System (IAOOS) project of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC). It was installed in part to monitor the fate of the large ANR-10-EQPX-32-01 ocean buoy, and particularly its laser cloud sensor. For this reason it was placed close (~ 3 meters) to the buoy. It was also surrounded with ablation stakes. The camera stood about 1.8 m above the April level of the ice surface. Owing to the wide-angle lenses used in the cameras, the buoy and stakes were closer to the the camera than they appeared.

2014_WebCam#2 example

This image was transmitted by WebCam#2 on 1 June 2014, and is a nice example of an image on a fairly clear day with good surface contrast partly due to some newly fallen snow. What may be the tracks of an investigating animal may be seen just beyond the IAOOS Buoy, but if so, that animal was not in a destructive frame of mind. The Buoy reported readings from its sensor array continuously until, probably, a newly-formed pressure ridge abruptly took out the data buoy sensors and terminated transmissions from the webcam. UPMC advises that, as of 15 July, the main buoy was still transmitting, although it had been tilted over 60 degrees from the vertical.

Complete 2012–2014 image archives from NPEO web cameras