Acoustic Monitoring of Ocean Surface Wave Spectra with Autonomous Underwater Gliders

R. Camilli, G. Burgess, G. Billings

We present a new, low-cost method for monitoring wave spectra (significant height, period, and direction) using an autonomous underwater glider equipped with a low power scanning sonar. Unlike conventional fixed buoys, this method enables coverage across wide spatial areas, including remote and difficult to access regions, such as the marginal ice zone or areas with extreme sea states. Preliminary results indicate that this process can operate continuously for durations of weeks, with spatial coverage in excess of 1000 km. Information gathered from these observations are potentially useful for understanding mechanisms of ice advance/retreat and coastal erosion.