Peter Kimball


Research Summary

My work at WHOI focuses on enabling scientific data acquisition through advances in robotics.  I work with unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to bring scientists new views of sea ice and ocean processes from above and below.  My research contributions are in these areas:

  1. Polar & remote operations of robotic vehicles
  2. Robotic vehicle navigation
  3. Mapping & mosaicking with camera, sonar, and lidar data

This year, I will be performing a number of field operations including two major polar field campaigns.  The first, with an international team of collaborators in Qaanaaq, Greenland, will use UASs to provide high-resolution visual maps of fjordal sea ice, glacial ice, and the North Water Polynya.  Together with concurrently collected ice surface data (e.g. thickness, roughness, and temperature), the UAS data will shed light on fjordal sea ice processes, and contribute to improved models for inference of ice thickness from satellite data.  Further, this campaign will demonstrate the deployment, operation, and recovery of small electric- and gasoline-powered UASs from remote sea ice locations in the polar environment – an operational capability that will be useful in a number of future investigations.

The second campaign will take place in the Antarctic, on the Australian icebreaker, Aurora Australis.  Together with others from the WHOI Deep Submergence Laboratory and collaborators from Australia, I will use a twin-hull Seabed AUV to perform upward-looking visual and acoustic mapping of Antarctic sea ice, as well as in situ measurement of water properties beneath sea ice.  These measurements will compliment surface and airborne measurements to form a rich Antarctic sea ice data set.  The navigation and data acquisition technologies we are developing will enable the collection of unprecedented data sets during this campaign, and in the future.  These data will be relied upon as scientists strive to understand sea ice processes and the roles they play in climate change.