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Ship mounted remote profiling of oceanographic properties


NOAA’s goals of (1) resilient coastal communities and economies, (2) healthy oceans, (3) a weather-ready nation, and (4) climate adaptation and mitigation, all hinge upon the depth of intelligence gathered about the dynamic ocean environment. Key oceanographic information drives climate and weather models, provides bench marks for how the ocean is changing, and is also important for other forms of coastal intelligence such as hydrography. A time varying and fully three dimension understanding of the subsurface ocean temperature and salinity is fundamental to improving our understanding of this important boundary condition, yet many measurements rely on inefficient in situ instrumentation beyond the top few meters of the ocean. Fine-scale ship based measurements are dependent on observations using equipment to sample vertically through the water column at a fixed location, or on hull-mounted and towed-sensor equipment for measurements along transects at a quasi-fixed depth. Such instrumentation is expensive in terms of either the time spent for the deployment and recovery or in terms of expendable probes that are simply dropped not recovered. Ship-based remote sensing to measure efficiently an extended region of the sub-surface oceanographic profiles would offer a huge improvement. There are techniques that may be leveraged to provide remotely-sensed oceanographic profiles in real time. For example, temperature, salinity, and density effects have been shown to cause measureable and statistically deterministic shifts in the scattered spectrum from lidar. Using the highly directional and stable frequency characteristics of lasers, Raman and Brillouin scattering may be leveraged to characterize the temperature, salinity, or overall sound speed profile of the water column. While these phenomena have been demonstrated for decades, no commercial instrumentation has been built to provide reliable measurements to the shipboard oceanographic community.


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