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Measuring Surface Ocean Wave Height and Directional Spectra Using an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler from an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle

Scott Haven, S.M., 2012
Eugene Terray, Advisor

The Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) is a proven technology which is capable of measuring surface wave height and directional information, however it is generally limited to rigid, bottom mounted applications which limit its capabilities for measuring deep water waves. By employing an upward looking ADCP on a moving platform, such as an autonomous underwater vehicle or submerged oat, we show that it is possible to remove the wave induced motion of the platform and accurately measure surface ocean wave information.

The platform selected for testing was a REMUS-100 vehicle equipped with an upward and downward looking ADCP and high accuracy Kearfott inertial navigation unit. Additionally, a Microstrain 3DM-GX3-25 Attitude Heading Reference System was tested as a low cost alternative to the Kearfott system. An experiment consisting of multiple REMUS deployments was conducted near the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO). The wave induced motion was measured by various inertial and acoustic sensors and removed from the ADCP data record. The surface wave height and mean directional estimates were compared against a Datawell MKIII directional Waverider buoy and bottom mounted 1200 kHz upward looking ADCP at the MVCO.

Results demonstrate that the non-directional spectrum of wave height and the mean wave direction as a function of frequency can be accurately measured from an underway autonomous underwater vehicle in coastal depth waters using an ADCP.