AXYS deploys the Arctic Lake Monitoring System in Inuvik

December 15, 2010

Sidney, BC Canada

In 2008, the Water & Climate Impacts Research Centre (W-CIRC), a collaborative Environment Canada and Department of Geography (University of Victoria) research centre, initiated an innovative project to design an autonomous system to be used for continuous year-round monitoring of hydro-ecology in Arctic lakes. Harsh environmental conditions and remote deployment locations forced a creative and customized approach to this challenge. W-CIRC looked to AXYS Technologies Inc. (AXYS) and their experience as system integrators in both the marine and water quality fields to assist in the development of a unique monitoring solution.

Arctic_Lake_Monitoring_System_deploymentThe proposed deployment location would have seasonal ice cover with ice forming and break-up transition periods. Cooperatively, AXYS and W-CIRC agreed on a system which would include two components; a large spar style buoy and a smart subsurface mooring package. These components together formed the Arctic Lake Monitoring System (ALMS), which would be used to perform continuous unattended year-round monitoring of meteorological conditions, ice cover, solar radiation and water quality on and throughout the water column of Noell Lake in the Northwest Territories.

The ALMS completed its final testing phase at the AXYS facility in Sidney, BC and was shipped to Inuvik, NT in early September, 2010. Although coordinating field work in the Arctic Circle has its share of challenges, the AXYS field technicians and W-CIRC personnel successfully commissioned and deployed the ALMS in Noell Lake on September 30th, 2010.

Within two weeks of deployment, the air temperature on Noell Lake dropped steadily and the spar buoy component froze into place onto the Lake. A 24-hour set of air and water temperature (3 points in water column) data from the ALMS graphically illustrates the day that Noell Lake froze over.

ALMS Temp Data GraphIn addition to air and water temperature data, W-CIRC will have real-time access to all of the meteorological conditions, ice cover, solar radiation and water quality information from the ALMS. Data from the subsurface mooring is transmitted to the buoy via an acoustic modem where all of the data from the system is compiled and sent out through cellular or satellite telemetry. This continuous year-round data is expected to provide a temporal understanding of Arctic lake ecosystems and assist in the development of hydro-ecological models for small tundra lakes in research disciplines including but not limited to: landscape hydrology & geochemistry, lake-ice modeling and aquatic productivity & carbon dynamics. Such models will be used to assess the vulnerability of Arctic lake ecosystems to disturbance, such as climate variability/change and those related to Canada’s northern region.


AXYS Technologies Inc. designs, manufactures, distributes and maintains remote environmental data acquisition, processing and telemetry systems.  For further information contact AXYS at: or