Hypersub – our Arctic marine spy

Oct 2014, Arjun Chennu

The hypersub observatory, developed at MPI Bremen, was tested in a pilot deployment in Helgoland back in May 2014 and approved for deployment in the Arctic. The target is an over-winter deployment on the underwater node of the COSYNA network at Ny-Ålesund, which would enable measurements in the rather harsh and inaccessible Arctic winter. The parameter of interest is the photosynthetic activity of microalgae in the sediment and water column through the polar night.

Hypersub was shipped off to the remote AWIPEV field station at Ny-Ålesund. In September I arrived at the AWIPEV station to prepare the deployment. The facilities of Kings Bay and AWIPEV are excellent, especially given the location at the top of the world. I constructed hypersub, with all its final nuts and bolts in place. After a few tests and discussion of the scientific diving plan, the day arrived to bring hypersub out to the water (Fig.1). As is visible from the snow-powdered backdrop in the picture, the weather had started to turn every few days. However, we got a window of opportunity to bring the ship, the divers and the instruments all into play. The deployment was handled very well, and hypersub was safely positioned at a depth of 15m and connected up to the COSYNA node.

Hypersub preparations

We were very pleased to see that we could login and operate hypersub through the network access. Without this, the deployment would have to be re-done... which was likely not possible. A few hours after deployment, we had a white-out snow storm (see video). All flights out were cancelled, but with a bit of friendly wrangling we were able to hitch a ride out of the scientific village aboard a passing ship. Back in Bremen, I was pleased to have access to hypersub up in the arctic over the internet. The instruments will have to optimized first, after which a longer-term acquisition can begin. This is the start of an exciting field measurement... while at home!

Watch this space for updates. Or some pictures from Ny-Ålesund.