Symposium Abstract: Distribution of Acoustic Backscatter Imagery from NOAA Hydrographic Surveys
J. K. Brown, D. W. Pritchard, and G. T. Noll
Congress appropriated $6.2 million in Fiscal Year 2002 spending for NOAA to upgrade its hydrographic surveying equipment on board the four NOAA survey vessels operating in support of safe navigation. This is NOAA’s first fleet-wide hydrographic equipment purchase since 1992. The NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, together with the National Ocean Service’s Office of Coast Survey, specified and procured five Klein 5500 high-speed high-resolution side scan sonarsÑone each for the NOAA ships RAINIER and RUDE, two for the WHITING launches, and one for the BAY HYDROGRAPHER, which NOAA also uses as a systems test platform. In addition, NOAA procured a Reson 8125 high-resolution multibeam echosounder for each vessel, and installed a hull-mounted Kongsberg-Simrad EM1002 multibeam echosounder aboard the WHITING. Ancillary sensors, software, and data storage management purchased to facilitate the use of these systems will help NOAA speed the hydrographic data to the nautical chart. In determining equipment needs, NOAA placed primary focus on meeting Homeland Security requirements in collaboration with the Naval Oceanographic Office. This purchase upgrades NOAA’s systems to 21st century technology so that it can continue its mission to produce the navigation products essential to safe and efficient maritime commerce. NOAA will also continue to develop optimized algorithms and work processes, using these Commercial Off the Shelf products, to share with and transfer to the entire hydrographic industry. One of the secondary benefits to this upgrade plan is the increased ability to apply these same technologies to the production of large area maps of benthic habitat. The high-resolution echosounders and side scan sonars will create exciting high-resolution digital terrain models of the underwater environment and provide good estimates of large-scale variations in acoustic backscatter. Demonstration of sample products will be the focus of the poster session.