The properties of the atmosphere, sea-ice and the polar oceans, and feedbacks between these domains play an important role in global climate. At the same time, the seasonal evolution of sea-ice dominates biological processes and biogeochemical cycles in polar ecosystems. The local observations necessary to understand these complex systems are, unfortunately, difficult to obtain, in particular, during the cold and dark winter months.

The rapid technological advance in recent decades opened up new possibilities in polar research. Using autonomous buoys we can now obtain time series of the full seasonal cycle, including sea-ice formation and melt. The observed sea-ice acts itself as a drifting platform. During regular icebreaker expeditions to the polar regions during the summer months several of these ice buoys are deployed in sea-ice, where they withstand the extreme conditions during the winter months.

By using so-called “Multidisciplinary Ice-based Distributed Observatories“ (MIDO) we combine a multitude of different, specialized buoy systems to record key parameters in the ice-covered, central Arctic Ocean. The concurrent recording of physical, biological and biogeochemical measurements in the atmosphere, sea-ice and ocean for time periods of several months to years allows unique insights into processes and feedbacks, that would not be possible by other means.