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Application of underwater acoustics in the study of sea ice in the Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen

The project concerns the use of underwater acoustics in determining sea ice properties in the Hornsund fjord, Spitsbergen, including in particular its types and coverage. One of the research goals is also to find the relationships between recorded underwater ambient noise and sea ice, meteorological and oceanographic conditions.

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Project date

Starts
2014-08-15

Ends
2020-08-15

Project status

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Project type

  • field work
  • data management
  • theoretical

Discipline

  • cryosphere
  • oceanography

Project Keywords

  • cryosphere / sea ice / ice deformation
  • cryosphere / sea ice / ice types
  • cryosphere / sea ice / sea ice concentration
  • oceans / ocean acoustics / ambient noise
  • cryosphere / sea ice / sea ice motion

Fieldwork information

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Summary

The presence of sea ice in various forms significantly alter the environmental conditions and thus modifies the course of a number of processes: physical, biological and biochemical. Proposed project concerns the use of underwater acoustics in determining sea ice properties in the Hornsund fjord, Spitsbergen, including in particular its types and coverage. One of the research goals is also to find the relationships between recorded underwater ambient noise and sea ice, meteorological and oceanographic conditions. The motivation for carrying out the proposed work is the thesis that hydroacoustics may allow the collection of detailed information about natural phenomena occurring in the polar regions, especially in the Arctic fjords nad straits. Furthermore, acoustic methods represent a potential alternative to remote sensing methods in studying of sea ice conditions in small polar basins. All measurements - hydroacoustic, meteorological and oceanographic - will be carried out in Spring and Autumn in the Hornsund fjord. The selection of specific locations will depend on the current sea ice situation, which is highly variable in this region. Two remote ambient noise recorders, each equipped with a pair of cabled hydrophones and GPS receiver, will be used to record underwater sounds. Individual recordings will last no longer than a few hours and will be conducted from the rubber boat or directly from the ice sheet with pre-drilled holes. Designed hydrophone array will allow to study directivity of underwater ambient noise and triangulate the location of individual sound sources. In parallel, using automatic weather stations, CTD probe and hydrostatic pressure recorder, measurements of wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, air temperature, seawater temperature and waves properties will be performed. The course of sea ice conditions in the area of research will be documented using digital cameras. What is more, it is also planned to take advantage of the available satellite images. Analysis of the recorded signals will be done in Matlab programming environment and based on two transformations: Fourier and wavelet. To achieve research objectives, it is necessary to use both, previously used and new methods of classification. The latter will use a variety of research tools, i.a. principal component analysis (PCA), neural networks, fuzzy logic and cluster analysis. Selected statistical, wavelet and spectral parameters, calculated for short fragments of the entire signal, will serve as an input data to the new algorithms. The application of the existing algorithms will enable identification of underwater sounds generated by rainfall and waves. Subsequently, after removal of that part of the signal, newly designed algorithms will allow recognition of hydroacoustic ambient noise associated with the presence of sea ice. As a result, it will be possible to distinguish different types of sea ice and to determine its coverage. The rapid development of marine tourism conducted in high latitudes, together with growing interest from mining companies in the extraction of crude petroleum and natural gas in the Arctic, determines the need for continuous monitoring of sea ice. Drifting sea ice poses a potential threat to vessels, thereby forcing the implementation of early warning systems in critical areas. Due to the relatively low temporal resolution, satellite images - in this case – are not a sufficient source of information. Therefore, the expected results will constitute an important progress in this field and give a chance to solve the extremely important problem. What is more, the combination of both methods can be a source of useful and sometimes even essential information for research groups engaged in the research projects in the polar regions. This concerns not only the role of sea ice in the course of physical, biological and photochemical processes, but also the planning of scientific expeditions.

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