Permafrost monitoring in Alaska and the north of Canada

Up-to-date monitoring of the ground temperature dynamics on remote sites in Alaska and Northern Canada with VDV


About project

Permafrost – ground material remaining below 0⁰C for more than two years – underlies about 25% of the Northern Hemisphere and plays an important role in the Arctic land-atmosphere system. Understanding the current state of permafrost, its temperature and distribution is important for many environmental and engineering studies. In the scope of this project we deploy a wide variety of sensors to measure air and ground temperature, snow depth, liquid water content as well as the heat flux into permafrost at several sites in Alaska and Northern Canada. The most distant sites are located on the Ellef Ringnes and Prince Patrick Islands, Canada, and are visited only once a few years; most of the data transmission occurs through the satellite uplink. Other not-so-far-away sites are either visited annually or when an opportunity arises. The overall network of sites is very heterogeneous and is numbering about 40-50 sites installed over the course of 20 years under different projects.




VDV provided, and currently provides, a great customer care support for our project. The compiled readme Help for the software is of great resource.

— Dmitry Nicolsky , Research Associate Professor - Permafrost Laboratory, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks

The challenge

Project Requirements

  • User friendly visualization of the collected data
  • Upkeep of observations from the historic sites and from current data streams
  • Support of older and newer generation of the Campbell Scientific data loggers
  • Quality control and monitoring of the incoming data

VDV suitability

  • Ability to browse, view and download select data records
  • Setting up user profiles with various levels of the data access
  • Compatibility with historical and current data standards by Campbell Scientific
  • Possibility to update data from stations reporting on the regular schedule, e.g. hourly, daily or weekly
  • Possibility to augment historical and archived data to the contemporary records
  • Storing data in the MySQL format, development of tools to edit selected data records
Map of the temperature monitoring stations maintained by the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks

The solution

The Vista Data Vision developers were granted a remote access to the project computer running Campbell Scientific LoggerNet software package. The software was successfully installed and then a path to the station database regularly updated by LoggerNet was specified. Data collected by historical Campbell dataloggers were easily incorporated into the system. Data from several historical stations absent in the currently active sites managed by LoggerNet were added to VDV. Data records for each station were grouped according to their types and classes for the displaying at the project website. Several user accounts were setup with various data access privileges.

Permafrost researchers on the field trip, studying a typical setup of the temperature monitoring equipment. The stations is using a Campbell Scientific equipment to measure air and ground temperature, snow depth, and liquid water content.
A visit to the Canadian Archipelago to check on the equipment. The station is measuring air and ground temperature, snow depth.

The results

Up-to-date monitoring of the ground temperature dynamics at the remote sites in Alaska and Northern Canada became a reality. Various research groups and the public can now easily observe changes in the ground temperature, snow cover and liquid water content in the ground. Some short-term forecasting of the ground temperature dynamics, e.g. whether or when the ground becomes frozen is simplified. Quality of data is now regularly monitored, and broken sensors could be identified prior to the remote field visits, thus reducing costs of the additional expeditions.


QA/QC integration with the USEPA Air Quality System Database

The purpose of this project was to take the QA/QC module and enhance it with the integrated AQS coding, formatting and with the ability to export the data to a format that would output the validated data to a compatible format for AQS data submissions.