For More Information

Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services

podcast iconCurrents (Diving Deeper podcast, 8.12.09)

National Water Level Observation Network

NOAA Collects Water Level Data in Barrow, Alaska

sensors before deployment

This image shows the sensors just before they were deployed. The water level data collected in Barrow, Alaska, will support a variety of NOAA activities in the region including hydrographic surveys, marine boundary determination, dredging, habitat restoration, and ultimately safe, efficient, and environmentally sound commerce when the sea lanes open in the North Slope.

NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) has developed an innovative system design to collect water level data in remote cold climate regions where there are problems with ice accumulation. 

In August 2008, two specially designed bottom-mounted water level gauges were deployed off the coast of Barrow, Alaska in approximately 100 feet (30.5 meters) of water. The systems were equipped with a high-stability pressure sensor, an acoustic modem for periodic data retrieval, a disposable ballast, and a pop-up buoy for recovery. 

Both systems were recovered one year later, in August 2009, and redeployed to collect another year of water level, water temperature, and salinity data in the region.  During the first year, water temperature on the bottom was -1.8 degrees Celsius (28.76 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter and rose to over 6 degrees Celsius (42.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in August.

In August 2010, CO-OPS successfully recovered the two water level gauges from the sea floor from the second deployment.  The continuous two-year water level record, that includes the winter months at Barrow, will add one more piece of information to help understand seasonal variability and climate change on Alaska's North Slope.