October 10, 2018


Water and ice play a critical role in Canadian landscapes, ecosystems, and infrastructure. The effects of a rapidly changing climate are expected to result in profound environmental changes in the Canadian Arctic.

The Water and Ice Research Laboratory (WIRL) at Carleton University, Canada, aims to better understand the effects of climate change through research focused on aquatic and cryosphere environments. A prerequisite for successful research is the ability to gather as much data from as many sources as possible.

In the past, expensive proprietary hardware was a major constraining factor in the ability of researchers to gather field data. With the development of open-source software and inexpensive, modular, and user-friendly hardware, it’s now possible for the WIRL to better observe and monitor the cryosphere.

Adam Garbo did just that by developing the Cryologger – an Arduino-based, multi-purpose datalogger and telemeter designed to collect data such as temperature, pressure, orientation, and GPS coordinates. The Cryologger was designed to be robust and is intended for deployments in the Canadian Arctic of one year or more.

In the summer of 2018, six Cryologgers were deployed as ice-tracking beacons in the Canadian Arctic. They’ll allow the WIRL to monitor the drift patterns of icebergs and ice islands along the coasts of Ellesmere and Baffin Island. Data from these Cryologgers is being transmitted hourly via a RockBLOCK 9603 to Rock Seven (now trading as Ground Control) and then pushed to the Cryologger tracking website, currently under development.

An assessment of the Cryologger’s performance will determine if low-cost, open-source hardware and software can provide a reliable and cost-effective alternative to commercially available equipment for use in the demanding polar regions. Given the success of many similar RockBLOCK enabled projects in the past, we can’t be anything but optimistic about the verdict.

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