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Ocean Acoustic Exploration

Final Report Summary - OAEX (Ocean Acoustic Exploration)

The OAEX joint research programme aims at developing synergies and reinforcing collaboration between the EU, Brazil and Canada in the field of ocean acoustic monitoring and marine technologies. In this context, the OAEX programme will contribute towards a global ocean through the exchange of experience on the usage of ocean acoustics for geophysical exploration, ocean circulation monitoring and underwater acoustic communications as well as in the framework of global change issues. The OAEX programme allows for the transfer of knowledge and information between partners in order to improve and complement their individual expertise to be applied in ongoing and prospective projects.

Specifically, European and Canadian groups have developed techniques of environmental ocean monitoring by acoustic remote sensing and underwater acoustic communication that could be integrated and applied to monitor the strategic and challenging site of Cabo Frio in Brazil, which has been studied for a long time by the Brazilian partners using conventional oceanographic tools. Moreover, the Canadian partner has privileged access to the NEPTUNE CANADA observatory, at the moment the unique cabled long-term multidisciplinary ocean observation laboratory in operation. Since there are plans to create such complex and expensive infrastructures by other major world players, and in particular EU (ESONET network), the OAEX partners will profit from exchanging experiences to optimise the implementation of current and future laboratories. To achieve the proposed goals, the main events foreseen in OAEX are interdisciplinary workshops where both scientific and technological aspects are discussed, also on the basis of simulation and experimental results obtained through researchers' exchange and collaboration during the time frame of OAEX. The exchange will encompass both scientific and technical personnel with experience at sea as well as advanced methodologies for data analysis.

The implementation of the project was broken down in two parts. The first part was devoted to the analysis of the experimental area and preparation of sea experiments, whereas the second part was devoted to performing the sea experiment itself, analysis of the experimental data and to draw project conclusions and recommendations.

The main objectives for the first part were to assess the initial conditions of the area, design an experiment for implementing a monitoring station off the Cabo Frio Island, perform modelling and preliminary simulation, plan the at-sea experiments and set up the necessary equipment. To assess the initial conditions and to perform modelling and simulations, geological and hydrological data for the experimental area were compiled. The geological characterisation was complemented with newly acquired cores, analysed in the framework of the project. The in-situ measurements were used to support the oceanographic and acoustic modelling of the area. Work was done in order to attain an integrated environmental model of the area, joining outputs from geophysical and acoustic models. Seminars and presentations were used to share expertise among individual partners. Also, a preliminary engineering test at sea was conducted in very shallow water area off the Cabo Frio Island to test equipment and procedures related to acoustic data acquisition. The main results achieved in this were, a priori, characterisation of the experimental area presented in the first OAEX Workshop held in March 2010 in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil. During the workshop, an initial sea trial plan was set up. After the workshop, major efforts were directed towards setting up a sea trial taking the constraints imposed by the available resources at Instituto de Estudos do Mar Almirante Paulo Moreira (IEAPM, Brazil) in account. Collaboration within OAEX allowed the set-up of an alternative acquisition system based on locally available equipment to gather experimental data of sufficient quality to attain the scientific objectives for the rest of the exchange programme.

The sea trial took place in November 2010. The OAEX sea experiment was one of the main achievements in the transfer of knowledge of the OAEX project, since it was the first time that Brazilian partners participated in the planning, preparation and conduction of a sea trial devoted to acoustic environmental monitoring and underwater communications. Although the resources used in the sea trial were limited due to budgetary constraints to transport equipment from EU partners to Brazil, it was possible to observe the effects of the local particular upwelling feature on acoustic data. Simultaneously with acoustic data acquisition, a hydrographic survey of the area was performed to support analysis of the acoustic data set. The pre-processing of experimental data and preliminary inversion results obtained during the subsequent secondments were presented at the ‘OAEX’ 10 Experiment and Data processing workshop’ at the University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal. Another objective of this workshop was to present methods for acoustic data inversion and to devise a strategy for further data processing. The attendance of the Canadian partner at this workshop allowed for a broader discussion on acoustic inversion methods. Also, the Brazilian partners were informed about the EU-Canada collaboration in the framework of the OAEX project. Thus, non-EU OAEX partners were collaborating directly between themselves and were effectively involved and participated in all relevant tasks of the project, i.e. the Brazilian partners participated in underwater communication tasks initially programmed with only the Canadian partner and the Canadian partner participated in the environmental inversion initially programmed with only the Brazilian partners. The last project workshop was in Brazil, organised by the Instituto Alberto Luis Coimbra de Pós-Graduação e Pesquisa en Engenharia (COPPE, Brazil) and Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB, Belgium), where the latest data processing results showing the potential of underwater acoustic for monitoring oceanographic features were presented, but also the achievements and lessons learned from the project were discussed. Perspectives for future collaborations in the area of research and advanced academic training were also discussed.

The project fully achieved the initial objectives, in particular contribution to the development of underwater acoustics in Brazil, helping Brazilian participants COPPE and IEPAM to be reference institutions in the country in the field. Underwater acoustics in Brazil is in an early stage of development however, it attracts much attention because of its relevant role in exploitation and monitoring of ocean resources that is a growing actual flagship of Brazil. The project also allowed initiating collaborations with other Brazilian academic and research institutions and enterprises as well. Thus the collaboration between EU, Brazilian and Canadian partners initiated in the framework of OAEX project contributed to develop lasting relations that can contribute to increase the exchange of services and goods between the participant regions.

Taking the transfer of knowledge activities into account, the record of publications, the milestones and the deliverables produced, the overall objectives of the project were achieved.