Mapping bathymetry using X-band marine radar data recorded from a moving vessel

Bell, Paul; Osler, John
December 2011
Ocean Dynamics;Dec2011, Vol. 61 Issue 12, p2141
Academic Journal
Marine radars mounted on ships can provide remarkable insights into ocean behaviour from distances of several kilometres, placing other in situ observations and the environment around a ship into a wider oceanographic context. It has been known for some time that it is possible to map shallow water bathymetry and currents using radar image sequences recorded from shore based stations. However, a long standing question from military and hydrographic communities has been whether such techniques can be applied to radar data collected by moving vessels. If so, this presents the possibility of mapping large areas of shallow or coastal seas (albeit with a somewhat coarse horizontal resolution of 50-100 m) prior to the surveying vessel actually having to travel into potentially uncharted or dangerous shallow water areas. Trial sets of radar data were recorded by the Canadian Forces Auxiliary Vessel Quest using a Wamos radar digitiser connected to a Decca navigation radar during a number of deployments around Nova Scotia in 2008 and 2009. Georeferencing corrections derived from the existing ship navigation systems were sufficient to allow the application of the existing depth inversion analysis designed for static radar installations. This paper presents the results of bathymetry analyses of two datasets recorded from CFAV Quest while the vessel was travelling at speeds of up to 14 knots. The bathymetry derived from the radar data compare favourably with independent surveys and with the on-board echo sounder to depths of approximately 50 m.


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