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A Multisensor Comparison of Ocean Wave Frequency Spectra from a Research Vessel during the Southern Ocean Gas Exchange Experiment

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  • 1 Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut, Groton, Connecticut
  • | 2 Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, University of Columbia, Palisades, New York
  • | 3 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Obtaining accurate measurements of wave statistics from research vessels remains a challenge due to the platform motion. One principal correction is the removal of ship heave and Doppler effects from point measurements. Here, open-ocean wave measurements were collected using a laser altimeter, a Doppler radar microwave sensor, a radar-based system, and inertial measurement units. Multiple instruments were deployed to capture the low- and high-frequency sea surface displacements. Doppler and motion correction algorithms were applied to obtain a full 1D (0.035–1.3 ± 0.2 Hz) wave spectrum. The radar-based system combined with the laser altimeter provided the optimal low- and high-frequency combination, producing a frequency spectrum in the range from 0.035 to 1.2 Hz for cruising speeds ≤3 m s−1 with a spectral rolloff of f−4 Hz and noise floor of −20/−30 dB. While on station, the significant wave height estimates were comparable within 10%–15% among instrumentation. Discrepancies in the total energy and in the spectral shape between instruments arise when the ship is in motion. These differences can be quantified using the spectral behavior of the measurements, accounting for aliasing and Doppler corrections. The inertial sensors provided information on the amplitude of the ship’s modulation transfer function, which was estimated to be ~1.3 ± 0.2 while on station and increased while underway [2.1 at ship-over-ground (SOG) speed; 4.3 m s−1]. The correction scheme presented here is adequate for measurements collected at cruising speeds of 3 m s−1 or less. At speeds greater than 5 m s−1, the motion and Doppler corrections are not sufficient to correct the observed spectral degradation.

Corresponding author address: A. Cifuentes-Lorenzen, University of Connecticut, 1080 Shennecossett Rd., Groton, CT 06340. E-mail: alejandro.cifuentes@uconn.edu

Abstract

Obtaining accurate measurements of wave statistics from research vessels remains a challenge due to the platform motion. One principal correction is the removal of ship heave and Doppler effects from point measurements. Here, open-ocean wave measurements were collected using a laser altimeter, a Doppler radar microwave sensor, a radar-based system, and inertial measurement units. Multiple instruments were deployed to capture the low- and high-frequency sea surface displacements. Doppler and motion correction algorithms were applied to obtain a full 1D (0.035–1.3 ± 0.2 Hz) wave spectrum. The radar-based system combined with the laser altimeter provided the optimal low- and high-frequency combination, producing a frequency spectrum in the range from 0.035 to 1.2 Hz for cruising speeds ≤3 m s−1 with a spectral rolloff of f−4 Hz and noise floor of −20/−30 dB. While on station, the significant wave height estimates were comparable within 10%–15% among instrumentation. Discrepancies in the total energy and in the spectral shape between instruments arise when the ship is in motion. These differences can be quantified using the spectral behavior of the measurements, accounting for aliasing and Doppler corrections. The inertial sensors provided information on the amplitude of the ship’s modulation transfer function, which was estimated to be ~1.3 ± 0.2 while on station and increased while underway [2.1 at ship-over-ground (SOG) speed; 4.3 m s−1]. The correction scheme presented here is adequate for measurements collected at cruising speeds of 3 m s−1 or less. At speeds greater than 5 m s−1, the motion and Doppler corrections are not sufficient to correct the observed spectral degradation.

Corresponding author address: A. Cifuentes-Lorenzen, University of Connecticut, 1080 Shennecossett Rd., Groton, CT 06340. E-mail: alejandro.cifuentes@uconn.edu
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