Innovative Real-Time Observing Capabilities for Remote Coastal Regions
Remote regions across Alaska are challenging environments for obtaining real-time, operational observations due to lack of power, easy road access, and robust communications. The Alaska Ocean Observing System partners with government agencies, universities, tribes and industry to evaluate innovative observing technologies, infrastructure and applications that address these challenges. These approaches support acquisition of ocean observing data necessary for forecasting and reporting conditions for safe navigation and response to emergencies and coastal hazards. Three applications are now delivering real-time surface current, sea ice, and water level data in areas not possible a mere 10 years ago. One particular challenge in Alaska is providing robust alternative power solutions for shore-based observing. Remote power options have been evolving alongside resilient technologies and are being designed for freeze-up conditions, making it possible to keep remotely deployed operational systems running and easy to maintain year-round. In this paper, three remote observing approaches are reviewed, including use of off-grid power to operate high-frequency (HF) radars for measuring surface currents, a real-time ice detection buoy that remains deployed throughout the freeze-up cycle, and a high-quality water level observing alternative to NOAA’s National Water Level Observing Network (NWLON) installations. These efforts are highly collaborative and require working partnerships and combined funding from other interested groups to make them a reality. Though they respond to Alaska’s needs including Arctic observing, these approaches also have broader applications to other remote coastal regions.