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Airborne Ocean Surface Current Measurements for Offshore Applications

Conference Proceedings OTC2015: Offshore Technology Conference, 4-7 May, Houston, Texas, USA, OTC-25956-MS

04 May 2015
Anderson, S.P., Zuckerman, S., Van Smirren, J.R. and Smith, R.
DOI: 10.4043/25956-MS

Previous research programs have developed and demonstrated the capability to extract near-shore surface currents from airborne sequences of visual images of surface waves. This same technique can be used for remote sensing of the open ocean to retrieve surface currents over extensive areas in a relatively short period of time. Here, we demonstrate airborne current measurements over deepwater areas of the Gulf of Mexico. The system comprises a pair of digital cameras to image the surface waves, and inertial navigation system and software processing to retrieve the Doppler shift due to the ocean currents. The system measures currents in real-time along the flight path with an accuracy of 5 cm/s on 250 m × 250 m scales. A typical flight can cover 1000 km of linear flight lines in a 4 hour period. The survey data provide a synoptic scale view of Loop Current eddies and detailed measurements along oceanic fronts. This new technology can fulfill a need for rapidly acquiring real-time measurements of currents over a broad region in support of oil spill response; offshore surface current monitoring; and search and rescue operations.


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