Use of Underwater Gliders for Acoustic Data Retrieval from Subsurface Oceanographic Instrumentation and Bidirectional Communication in the Deep Ocean

Send, Uwe; Regier, Lloyd; Jones, Brent
May 2013
Journal of Atmospheric & Oceanic Technology;May2013, Vol. 30 Issue 5, p984
Academic Journal
Many fixed oceanographic instruments and observing systems are deployed in the water column or on the seafloor for extended periods of time without any expression at the sea surface. To routinely communicate with such subsurface instruments in the deep ocean, here a system is presented that uses underwater gliders and commercially available acoustic modems for this task and its use is demonstrated with subsurface moorings and inverted echo sounders plus bottom pressure sensor (PIES). One recent glider mission spent 31 days in data retrieval dives, capturing 2 MB of error-free subsurface data. To acquire this volume, a total of 2.65 MB (including all retransmissions) were sent, with a success rate of 75%. A model for the energy usage of each phase of modem function was derived from laboratory measurements. While the model predicts that the glider would expend 0.21 J to acquire each data byte, the actual consumption of the glider in the field is 0.49 J byte−1. The inefficiency is due to overhead associated with establishment of the acoustic link and with the resending of data that is received with errors. Including all the time for negotiating the acoustic link and for the retransmission of erroneous data, the net data throughput are around 3 bytes s−1 in spite of the modem operating at 140 to 600 baud. Even with these limitations, the technique has shown to be useful and is being utilized routinely in a research project in the California Current to obtain data from horizontal distances up to 7 km from an instrument at depths up to 4000 m, transferring on average 6 kB of data in a day of acoustic communications.


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