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Images: Communicating Under Sea Ice

On the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy during a 2016 follow-on experiment in the Arctic, WHOI research engineer Lee Freitag examines the electronics to a new sound-based communications and navigation system that he and his colleagues developed and used in the Arctic.
(Photo courtesy of Lee Freitag, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
The long-range under-ice sound communication system developed by WHOI engineer Lee Freitag and his colleagues: In the Arctic Ocean, a cold water layer bounded above and below by warmer layers acts as a "sound duct" that channels sound waves over long distances. Sound beacons suspended in the channel emit information-carrying sound signals that travel to other buoys and to autonomous underwater vehicles under the ice. Data is relayed from the buoys to scientists via satellite. (Illustration by Eric Taylor, WHOI Graphic Services)
Sunrise comes to Sachs Harbor, a village on Banks Island in the remote Canadian Arctic that was transformed into a research hub in the spring and summer of 2014. As part of a larger Arctic research project, WHOI engineers installed a communications system that allowed autonomous vehicles traveling under the sea ice to communicate—without surfacing—to scientists in their home labs. (Photo courtesy of Peter Koski, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
With experienced pilots, WHOI engineers John Kemp and Peter Koski flew hundreds of miles onto the Arctic ice pack in a red Twin Otter plane. Two Twin Otters carried scientists and engineers onto the ice during the spring and summer 2014 as part of an international research program. Kemp and Koski installed eight buoys on the ice, positioning acoustic beacons in a layer of water that channels the sound waves and enables signals to travel long distances. (Photo courtesy of Peter Koski, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
On Banks Island, yellow buoys wait to be loaded into Twin Otter planes for the flight out onto the Arctic ice. (Photo courtesy of Peter Koski, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Twin Otter planes were packed full of buoys, cables, and other equipment for flights from Banks Island onto the ice. The planes carry 2,000 pounds—the pilot, co-pilot, mechanic, and WHOI engineers John Kemp and Peter Koski accounted for half of that. Flights included re-fueling on the ice. Pilots planned for refueling, placing 55-gallon drums of fuel at locations on the ice in advance and marking them for view from the air. (Photo courtesy of Peter Koski, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
In a camp on Arctic sea ice, WHOI scientist Ted Maksym, who was working on another research project, greets the “bear dog.” When science teams stay overnight on the ice, a Banks Island resident and his dog comes along for safety. The “bear dog” would sleep on a pallet outside the tents and bark if it smelled or heard a polar bear. (Photo courtesy of Peter Koski, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
WHOI engineers John Kemp and Peter Koski had a system for installing buoys. After drilling a hole through five- to ten-foot-thick ice, they laid out the buoy, connected to a line 330 feet long that carried the sound beacon, or acoustic transponder. Kemp and Koski walked the 75-pound buoy to the hole, lowering the transponder, and set the buoy on the hole. Then they got back on the plane and flew to the next site on the ice. (Photo courtesy of Peter Koski, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
A lone buoy sits atop Arctic ice in the Canada Basin. In the water below the buoy, a sound beacon in the cold-water “sound duct” sends out sound-wave signals to communicate with other buoys and autonomous underwater vehicles hundreds of miles away, part of a new long-range under-ice acoustic communication system. (Photo courtesy of Peter Koski, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
A possible future integrated acoustic communications system in the Arctic. Autonomous vehicles and gliders transmit data via sound signals to transponders suspended beneath the ice. The transponders send the data to the buoys’ antennas, and from there via satellite to scientsts in other locations. Scientists can control vehicles’ movements by communicating via satellite to the buoys, which send sound signals to the vehicles. (Painting by E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
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