Science and Engineering

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Ying-Tsong Lin, Daniel P. Zitterbart, Paul Matthias, John N. Kemp
Tempe, AZ
June 2018


Sound is one of the most efficient tools available for exploring the ocean’s opaque interior, and many oceanographic advances have been made possible with underwater acoustic technologies.  The team will develop a new scientific instrument which will push the frontiers of ocean science.  It is a real-time 3D “acoustic telescope” formed by six phased hydrophone arrays capable of directionally isolating acoustic sources and equipped with a satellite communication system for real-time data transmission.  This instrument will enable a variety of remote deep-water explorations by listening to ambient sound generated by biological, geophysical, and meteorological events, as well as oceanographic and anthropogenic processes and activities.  The scientific goal is to provide a more complete, even holistic understanding of oceanic environmental processes by integrating underwater soundscape parameters with other oceanographic and meteorological measurements.  This first-of-its-kind instrument will lead to an unprecedented integrated acoustic view of the ocean by resolving sound source 3D positions to increase the breadth of data rather than only detecting their presence.  The potential transformative impacts include enabling (1) the imaging of diversified soundscape observations (basin-scale ocean acoustic holography), (2) inference of marine life environments and interactions (soundscape ecology), and (3) remote acoustic sensing of oceanographic, geological, and seismological processes.  Technical challenges include the development of: (1) acoustic data and information processing for high-volume and high-speed data telemetry; (2) acoustic feature recognition; and, (3) robust mooring engineering design and operations for minimal mechanical vibration noise.

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