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OSRR-1000-Oil Spill Detection and Mapping Under Arctic Sea Ice using Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Project Number
Project Initiation Date
Performing Activity
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Principal Investigator
Edward Maksym and Hanumant Singh

Objective/Goal: The goal of this project was to evaluate and develop an AUV-based system for detection and mapping of oil in ice-infested waters from below the water and/or ice. The two main elements of this effort were: Extensive laboratory ice-tank tests to test and evaluate each candidate sensor, and provide a 'fit-for-purpose' AUV-based sensor suite to detect and quantify the thickness of oil under sea ice from below the ice. Development of an AUV mission strategy to efficiently map the distribution of oil under complex sea ice terrain, and in the variety of ice conditions found in US Arctic coastal waters. The project was accomplished in a series of tasks as described below.

Task 1. Sensor System Development: A series of oil-under-ice experiments was conducted in laboratory ice tanks where ice and oil conditions were carefully controlled. Each proposed system was tested in order to understand the limitations and advantages of each sensor or suite of sensors with a primary focus on evaluation of sonar systems. An AUV-based deployment platform with an integrated sensor system was developed. Additionally, data fusion algorithms for exploiting multisensory data from the sensor suite to reliably detect and discriminate oil under a full range of conditions was developed. Finally, the best strategy for rapid image processing and mosaicking to determine the efficiency of digital imagery for rapid oil mapping and response, either alone or in conjunction with other sensor systems was evaluated.

Task 2. Sensor System Field Testing: The system was tested in Eel Pond at Woods Hole, Lake Michigan, and off of the Coast Guard Cutter Healey in Alaska to develop preliminary adaptive mission strategies and real-time decision making capability for oil mapping; evaluate options for communication of large-volume data to the surface; and test the sensor system under ice, including deployment and recovery operations.

Latest progress update

The project is complete. The final report is posted below.