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Fieldwork near supraglacial lakes at the head of Lemon Glacier (2004)

Current Projects


SEAMONSTER is a terrestrial and marine geoscience research program originally conducted at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau. This Wiki is corresponding web content for both past and ongoing work. The domain, including this Wiki, is maintained by Rob Fatland, an employee of Microsoft Research.)

The purpose of this Wiki is to document the research and the underlying technology of SEAMONSTER and related projects.

Microserver 58 reporting in at one hour intervals over WiFi from its location near the terminus of Mendenhall Glacier


The South East Alaska MOnitoring Network for Science, Telecommunications, Education, and Research is a collaborative environmental research program centered at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau. The emphasis in SEAMONSTER during its three-year initial run was terrestrial hydrology in glacier-covered watersheds, and in particular on near-real-time data recovery from sensors by means of radio telemetry and related sensor network technology. The biggest technological success story from SEAMONSTER is the continuous operation of a field computer, or "microserver" at the base of Mendenhall Glacier over two years (including winter).

You can read a more extensive summary of the project by clicking this link.

SEAMONSTER: Legend and benefit

Gastineau Channel, Gulf of Alaska

There is a Tlingit legend about a sea monster named Gunakadeit (Goo-na'-ka-date) who brought prosperity and good luck to a village in crisis, starving in the home they made for themselves on the southeast coast of Alaska. This wiki describes a current-day technology program invoking another benevolent sea monster. Rather than delivering fish and furs this seamonster harvests data: Information about our environment that will enable us to better understand, appreciate and safeguard our home.

It has been said that building and operating smart sensor networks (or sensor webs) for geoscience research requires three or more computer scientists for every ecologist. Eventually we hope to see the ratio reversed; that is, we see the state-of-the-art advancing until a single technology expert can enable and support many scientists, as well as enabling students and the public to virtually watch scientific data collection as it happens. For this reason the project educational objectives include scientist-teacher-student collaboration, fieldwork opportunities, extended projects for dedicated students, and eventually--as you can imagine--an intuitive online interface to coastal Southeast Alaska. 2006: SEAMONSTER is funded for three years by NASA

SEAMONSTER's History and Wiki Map

  • 2007: First year produces baseline data from Lemon Creek Glacier watershed
  • 2008: Second year includes high-precision GPS surveys of glacier motion
  • 2009: SEAMONSTER initial funding period ends; watershed research near Juneau continues
  • 2010: We begin writing out the Terrestrial-Marine Connections project
  • 2010: Mendenhall Glacier continues as the poster-glacier for receding ice. (More movies are found here.)

Site Map and Wiki Structure

Data from SEAMONSTER: Telling the story of sub-glacial (liquid) water in a drainage system

Within the SEAMONSTER wiki you will find notes, exposition (science and engineering), photographs, circuit diagrams, source code, background, journal entries and more. The wiki is theoretically structured as a pyramid with progressive levels of detail as you dive down using the embedded links. In practice there is a lot of information here; but we have to confess it is scattered. Towards finding specific content the interested visitor is referred to the search utility on the left sidebar.

Project Goals

  • Address scientific questions in Lemon Creek and Mendenhall watersheds in Southeast Alaska
  • Build a wireless sensor network infrastructure
    • Extend the sensor network idea to a sensor web: A network that intelligently responds to events within the watershed across platforms and sensors to reconfigure network behavior.
  • Provide an easy means for scientists to recover large amounts of data from remote environments.
  • Provide students and educators with a unique learning opportunity
    • Help build the Seamonster network
    • Learn about the study environment and understand the returning data streams
  • Place scientists in contact with educators and students in the classroom
    • Make the purpose and content of the SEAMONSTER project accessible and meaningful

Students and interns working at the face of Mendenhall Glacier


This project was sponsored in 2006--2009 by NASA'sAdvanced Information Systems Technology (ESTO/AIST) program. SEAMONSTER is also affiliated with NOAA'sInterdisciplinary Scientific Environmental Technology Cooperative Science Center.

Wiki mechanics