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Maker Buoy Variants for Water Level Monitoring and Tracking Drifting Objects in Remote Areas of Greenland

New publication by Daniel F. Carlson, Wayne J. Pavalko, Dorthe Petersen, Martin Olsen and Andreas E. Hass


Meltwater runoff from the Greenland Ice Sheet changes water levels in glacial lakes and can lead to glacial lake outburst flooding (GLOF) events that threaten lives and property. Icebergs produced at Greenland’s marine terminating glaciers drift into Baffin Bay and the North Atlantic, where they can threaten shipping and offshore installations. Thus, monitoring glacial lake water levels and the drift of icebergs can enhance safety and aid in the scientific studies of glacial hydrology and iceberg-ocean interactions. The Maker Buoy was originally designed as a low-cost and open source sensor to monitor surface ocean currents. The open source framework, low-cost components, rugged construction and affordable satellite data transmission capabilities make it easy to customize for environmental monitoring in remote areas and under harsh conditions. Here, we present two such Maker Buoy variants that were developed to monitor water level in an ice-infested glacial lake in southern Greenland and to track drifting icebergs and moorings in the Vaigat Strait (Northwest Greenland). We describe the construction of each design variant, methods to access data in the field without an internet connection, and deployments in Greenland in summer 2019. The successful deployments of each Maker Buoy variant suggest that they may also be useful in operational iceberg management strategies and in GLOF monitoring programs