A Baffin Bay Acoustic Navigation and Communication System

Eric Rehm, Walid Baccari, Marcel Babin

Abstract


In open water, autonomous floats and gliders can periodically surface and use GPS to determine their position. Iridium satellite communication can be used to send data back to land-based ocean data centers for analysis, research and operational decision-making. However, autonomous operation in the Arctic is not currently possible because ice cover prevents floats and gliders from positioning (geolocating) their measurements as well as relaying data to shore for long periods; neither GPS nor satellite data communications are possible under the water. As a result, our current set of scientific observations of the Canadian Arctic is biased towards spring and summer when it is navigable by ships and when autonomous platforms can safely surface. To truly comprehend winter Arctic waters in the manner that has been achieved in world’s more temperate oceans, floats and gliders require additional capability for underwater geolocation and periodic communication. We propose a Baffin Bay Acoustic Navigation and Communication System (BBANC), which will use broadband low-frequency sources to provide basin-wide coverage of RAFOS-style signals for acoustic positioning of underwater assets.  Low-frequency acoustic receivers would be collocated with the sources to enable ocean acoustic tomography for long-term study of heat content and currents. Finally, passive acoustic listening systems would enable the study of marine mammal communication and ambient noise from ships, sonar, ocean-based resource exploitation and ice dynamics, as well as gating acoustic source operation in the presence of marine mammals. The BBANC Project currently consists of a collaborative feasibility study to describe the basic challenges and design parameters of such a system, as well as define additional acoustic measurements required to complete a system design.  We will present simulation of under-ice sound speed from historical T-S profiles, ice properties derived from satellite remote sensing, and modelled acoustic propagation in an ice-covered Baffin Bay.


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