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ITP29 Deployment Operations

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At least several days prior to any deployment operation, it is important to prepare the surface packages to verify positioning and transmission functionality.  The buoys are removed from the shipping boxes, the batteries connected, electronics sealed in the aluminum pressure tube, and finally lashed upright with a clear view of satellites.  Scientists back at WHOI receive the status updates from the ITP surface packages  and provide confirmation to the field team that each buoy is able to successfully obtain GPS locations and transmit via Iridium satellite telephone. (Kris Newhall)

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ITP 29 was the first deployment of the expedition, so some time was spent loading the helicopter for maximum efficiency.  Once the helicopter lands on the ice, the gear needs to be unloaded as quickly and safely as possible in case the ice or weather conditions change suddenly. (Kris Newhall)

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Once a potential floe has been spotted from the air, the helicopter lands on the ice and an ice survey specialist hops onto the ice and measures the ice thickness by drilling multiple 2" diameter holes with an ice auger.  If the conditions are considered acceptable the helicopter shuts down and the gear is unloaded. (Kris Newhall)

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After the 11" diameter hole has been drilled through the ice floe and all deployment apparatus assembled, the anchor with approximately the first 10 meters of wire are deployed.  Sergey Unovidov watches as Jeff Pietro holds the ITP while Kris Newhall attaches a synthetic tag line in order to hang the instrument vertically on the wire rope just prior to lowering it into the water.

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Newhall stands atop the deployed ITP system with laptop computer connected to the ITP.  The inductive modem circuit test with the underwater profiler was successful, so the team the deployment apparatus was removed and plywood placed underneath the surface foam in order to support the system during summer when melting around the foam would cause the buoy to sink into a melt pond.  (Jeff Pietro)

The first ITP deployed from the Akademik Federov in 2008, ITP 29 was deployed remotely using the ship's contracted helicopter from St. Petersburg.  Prior to the first flight, a meeting was held by the chief scientist with the deployment team and flight team to ensure that everyone understood the desired ice floe requirements and planned operations for the ITP installation.  The flight team were well seasoned veterans of the Arctic and knowledgeable about choosing the proper ice conditions.  Soon afterwards, the MI-8 helicopter was loaded with everything needed for the deployment and final preparations were made for the flight. 

Flight time was roughly one hour to the first potential floe spotted from the air.  The helicopter landed and the ice drilled and found to be only 1.8 meters thick.  Looking for a floe greater than 2 m thick, it was decided to continue the search.  The second landing of the helicopter found a floe that was 2.8 meters thick at the landing spot -- a perfect find amongst first year ice which typically measured less than 1.5 meters.

After unloading the deployment team and apparatus, the helicopter departed to conduct other business.  The deployment took roughly three hours to complete and communications between the profiling instrument and the surface package tested well.  The deployment gear was repacked and the helicopter was called, and the team snacked on tea, cheese and salami while they waited for their ride back to the ship. 

Last updated: September 21, 2017

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