Advanced Concepts for Underwater Acoustic Channel Modeling

Monday, 15 December 2014
Paul C Etter1, Charlie H Haas2 and Deepak V Ramani2, (1)Northrop Grumman Corporation Baltimore, Electronic Systems, Baltimore, MD, United States, (2)Northrop Grumman Corporation Annapolis, Electronic Systems, Annapolis, MD, United States
This paper examines nearshore underwater-acoustic channel modeling concepts and compares channel-state information requirements against existing modeling capabilities. This process defines a subset of candidate acoustic models suitable for simulating signal propagation in underwater communications. Underwater-acoustic communications find many practical applications in coastal oceanography, and networking is the enabling technology for these applications. Such networks can be formed by establishing two-way acoustic links between autonomous underwater vehicles and moored oceanographic sensors. These networks can be connected to a surface unit for further data transfer to ships, satellites, or shore stations via a radio-frequency link. This configuration establishes an interactive environment in which researchers can extract real-time data from multiple, but distant, underwater instruments. After evaluating the obtained data, control messages can be sent back to individual instruments to adapt the networks to changing situations. Underwater networks can also be used to increase the operating ranges of autonomous underwater vehicles by hopping the control and data messages through networks that cover large areas. A model of the ocean medium between acoustic sources and receivers is called a channel model. In an oceanic channel, characteristics of the acoustic signals change as they travel from transmitters to receivers. These characteristics depend upon the acoustic frequency, the distances between sources and receivers, the paths followed by the signals, and the prevailing ocean environment in the vicinity of the paths. Properties of the received signals can be derived from those of the transmitted signals using these channel models. This study concludes that ray-theory models are best suited to the simulation of acoustic signal propagation in oceanic channels and identifies 33 such models that are eligible candidates.