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Research > Research Departments > Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering

Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering
Overview | Awards & Recognition | Photos

Rocky Geyer, chair of the AOPE Department (left) discusses the Institutionís new coastal research vessel with Port Engineer Dutch Wegman. They were instrumental in the design of Tioga, which can range from the Gulf of Maine to New York harbor. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst)
The engineers, scientists, and technicians of the Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering Department (AOPE) seek novel ways to observe and model ocean processes, extending the reach of the oceanographic community from the turbulent surf zone to the abyssal depths. Research and development in the department can be divided into five areas: environmental fluid mechanics, ocean acoustics, submersible vehicles, observing systems and sensors, and engineering services.

The departmentís Deep Submergence Laboratory made strides in 2003 to take science deeper into the abyss. In December, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration granted Dana Yoerger, Andy Bowen, and Louis Whitcomb $5 million to build a hybrid remotely operated vehicle (HROV) capable of exploring the deepest trenches of the ocean. Part autonomous free-swimming robot, part tethered vehicle, the HROV will combine wide-area survey capabilities with close-up sampling.

Chris von Alt and Ben Allen of the Oceanographic Systems Laboratory put different versions of their Remote Environmental Monitoring UnitS (REMUS) to work for the U.S. Navy and the City of New York. In the spring, REMUS vehicles were used to detect mines in the Iraqi harbor of Um Qasr. In early summer, the Tunnel Inspection Vehicle, a specially designed REMUS, surveyed the decaying New York City aqueduct system to locate leaks.

Hanumant Singh and colleagues used the SeaBED autonomous vehicle to discover previously unmapped coral communities thriving at intermediate depths off the U.S. Virgin Islands. Using specially outfitted camera systems, the team found corals in regions beyond the reach of divers and most observing systems.

John Trowbridge and Jim Edson led the design, deployment, and instrumentation of an AirSea Interaction Tower (ASIT) about three kilometers south of Marthaís Vineyard. The tower is connected to shore-based labs via the Marthaís Vineyard Coastal Observatory. As part of ONRís Coupled Boundary Layers/Air-Sea Transfer (CBLAST) program, scientists from six institutions used an array of off shore moorings, aircraft and ship-based surveys, as well as the highly instrumented ASIT, to gather data that will improve models of the coupling between the ocean and atmosphere and could improve marine forecasts.

Along the California coast, Senior Scientist Steve Elgar and Associate Scientist Britt Raubenheimer led a team of 25 scientists from 10 institutions in the Nearshore Canyon Experiment (NCEX). From September through December, the NCEX team deployed arrays of instruments to observe how submarine canyons and other seafloor formations affect wave propagation and nearshore currents (see Doing the Wave).

—W. Rockwell Geyer (rgeyer@whoi.edu)
Department Chair

Related Web Sites
Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering Department
Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO)
Hybrid Remotely Operated Vehicle (HROV)
Remote Environmental Monitoring UnitS (REMUS)
Coupled Boundary Layers Air-Sea Transfer (CBLAST)