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Basin-Scale Oceanographic Problems of the Arctic Ocean and a Monitoring System for Their Solution

There are at least five key parameters of the Arctic Ocean whose monitoring are crucial for understanding the ocean's variability and the Arctic's influence on global climate. These parameters are: freshwater content, sea ice volume (thickness and extent), oceanic heat content, circulation, and sea level. It is a common perception now that the recent history of the Arctic is characterized by: a significant change in circulation, a substantial increase in ocean heat content, a descending trend in summer ice cover extent and in ice thickness, an increase in rate of sea level rise, and changes in fresh water flux to the North Atlantic (Great Salinity Anomaly), but these trends could be erroneous because observations in the Arctic Ocean are scarce and there are huge gaps in the data in space and time. In order to fill these gaps in future studies, we propose an observational Arctic Ocean Monitoring System (AOMS) that can serve for sustained, long-term efforts to document and understand variability in the ocean and sea ice. Building on the successful Moored Profiler technology, we propose to initiate development of an automated, long-lived, ice-tethered buoy capable of returning daily high-vertical-resolution profiles of upper ocean temperature and salinity in the Arctic Ocean during all seasons over several years. An array of such buoys would monitor arctic conditions from the surface to 500-800 meters providing sufficient information about the key oceanic parameters mentioned above.