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Noel A. Pelland, James S. Bennett, Jacob M. Steinberg, and Charles C. Eriksen


Automated feature tracking and vehicle navigation have the potential to facilitate autonomous surveys of ocean eddies by increasing sampling quality and/or decreasing operator workload. During an observational campaign in late 2013 and early 2014, methods for automated tracking were used to direct multiple ocean gliders during persistent surveys of a California Undercurrent eddy in Washington and British Columbia, Canada, coastal waters over a 3-month period. Glider observations of depth-averaged currents in the ocean’s upper kilometer and vertical separation of selected isopycnals were assimilated into a simple model describing eddy position, size, strength, and background flows using an extended Kalman filter. Though differing in detail from observations, results show the assumed eddy structure was sufficient to describe its essential characteristics and stably estimate eddy position through time. Forecast eddy positions and currents were used to select targets automatically to guide multiple gliders along transects through the eddy center as it translated. Transects performed under automated navigation had comparable or better straightness and distance from the eddy center when compared to navigation based on manual interpretation of the eddy scale and position. The tracking results were relatively insensitive to model choices at times when the eddy was well sampled, but they were more sensitive during sampling gaps and redundancies or rapid eddy translation. Overall, the results provide evidence that automated tracking and navigation are feasible with potential for widespread application in autonomous eddy surveys.

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James S. Bennett, Frederick R. Stahr, Charles C. Eriksen, Martin C. Renken, Wendy E. Snyder, and Lora J. Van Uffelen


Seagliders are buoyancy-driven autonomous underwater vehicles whose subsurface position estimates are typically derived from velocities inferred using a flight model. We present a method for computing velocities and positions during the different phases typically encountered during a dive–climb profile based on a buoyancy-driven flight model. We compare these predictions to observations gathered from a Seaglider deployment on the acoustic tracking range in Dabob Bay (200 m depth, mean vehicle speeds ~30 cm s−1), permitting us to bound the position accuracy estimates and understand sources of various errors. We improve position accuracy estimates during long vehicle accelerations by numerically integrating the flight model’s fundamental momentum-balance equations. Overall, based on an automated estimation of flight-model parameters, we confirm previous work that predicted vehicle velocities in the dominant dive and climb phases are accurate to <1 cm s−1, which bounds the accumulated position error in time. However, in this energetic tidal basin, position error also accumulates due to unresolved depth-dependent flow superimposed upon an inferred depth-averaged current.

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James M. Kurdzo, Earle R. Williams, David J. Smalley, Betty J. Bennett, David C. Patterson, Mark S. Veillette, and Michael F. Donovan


Chaff is a radar countermeasure typically used by military branches in training exercises around the United States. Chaff within view of the S-band WSR-88D beam can appear prominently on radar users’ displays. Knowledge of chaff characteristics is useful for radar users to discriminate between chaff and weather echoes and for automated algorithms to do the same. The WSR-88D network provides dual-polarimetric capabilities across the United States, leading to the collection of a large database of chaff cases. This database is analyzed to determine the characteristics of chaff in terms of the reflectivity factor and polarimetric variables on large scales. Particular focus is given to the dynamics of differential reflectivity Z DR in chaff and its dependence on height. In contrast to radar observations of chaff for a single event, this study is able to reveal a repeatable and new pattern of radar chaff observations. A discussion about the observed characteristics is presented, and hypotheses for the observed Z DR dynamics are put forth.

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