Environmental consultancy SAMS Research Services Ltd (SRSL) designs and manufactures novel autonomous sea-ice mass balance buoys (SIMBs) for monitoring sea-ice cover in the Arctic/Antarctic.
For five years, these devices have been built at the Scottish Marine Institute, Oban, in shared laboratories. This week however, SRSL has moved production to a dedicated manufacturing facility on the same site, which has been custom-designed to maximise production-efficiency and facilitate quality assurance of these devices.
“We anticipate a three-fold increase in production of SIMBs as a result of our relocation to this dedicated manufacturing facility, enabling us to meet larger order requirements in future. The site-design will also facilitate our quality assurances process for build and testing as SRSL works towards a suite of new accreditations” – Phillip Thompson, SIMB Production Engineer, SRSL.
Measurement of sea-ice thickness is achieved by deployment of a network of these reliable and affordable autonomous buoys. These instruments comprise a novel autonomous platform and sensor that monitors temperature profiles in ice and snow using a chain of inexpensive digital temperature chip sensors. The unit is capable of resolving material interfaces (e.g. air-snow and ice-ocean boundaries) and ultimately monitors the thickness of sea-ice. The instrument is small, low-cost and easy to deploy. The devices incorporate data telemetry (via Iridium SBD) and have in-built GPS for tracking sea-ice movement. The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) has purchased many of the SRSL units and has recently deployed devices in the Baltic Sea for the first time:
“Multiple re-use of the buoys will benefit our research and operational work greatly. Installation was easy and the units provided FMI with the ice-thickness data we needed. Customer support from the SRSL deployment and operations team was also excellent” - Bin Chen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute
To date, SRSL has delivered in excess of 130 SIMB units, which have been deployed in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. SRSL continues the R&D process, improving design and adding new capabilities to the current model.