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Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering

  • Emperor penguins in Antarctica introduce themselves to ECHO
    Emperor penguins in Antarctica introduce themselves to ECHO, a Marine Animal Remote Sensing Laboratory robot that scans tens of thousands of penguins each year. The resulting database will be used to advance our understanding of penguin lifecycles, including foraging and breeding habits, while forecasting the impact of climate change. (Photo by Dan Zitterbart, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
  • Assistant Scientist Maddie Smith measures the albedo of summer sea ice in the Central Arctic.
    Assistant Scientist Maddie Smith measures the albedo of summer sea ice in the Central Arctic. Because ice reflects far more solar energy back into space than other types of land areas or open water, ice-albedo feedback plays an important role in global climate change. (Photo by Lianna Nixon, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
  • PV Lab field experiment
    WHOI senior scientist Steve Elgar (middle), research associate Levi Gorrell (right), and U.S. Army oceanographer Kate Brodie (left) deploy a current meter to measure seawater flowing along and across the beach as Hurricane Dorian inundates the North Carolina coast during a recent PV Lab field experiment. (Photo by Britt Raubenheimer, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution).
  • Robin Littlefield carries an early "single-blade" prototype during testing of Asymmetric Propulsion in Great Harbor.
    Robin Littlefield carries an early "single-blade" prototype during testing of Asymmetric Propulsion in Great Harbor. This propulsion technology enables one motor driving a single-blade propeller to be used for both propulsion and maneuvering in Deep Submergence Laboratory (DSL) underwater vehicles. (Photo by Fred Jaffre, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
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    Two Remote Environmental Monitoring Units (REMUS) vehicles were stowed on R/V Neil Armstrong before the ship departed on the final leg of a three-leg expedition to service parts of the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) at the Coastal Pioneer Array. The array is located at a frontal boundary in the ocean where coastal and offshore waters meet and mix. During the cruise, WHOI engineer Amy Kukulya sent these vehicles on a trial mission, during which they traveled autonomously 45 kilometers along the edge of the shelf and dove hundreds of meters to collect information on ocean current circulation. (Photo by Ken Kostel Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
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    The hybrid remotely operated vehicle Nereid Under Ice (HROV NUI) returns from a dive to the deck of the icebreaker Polarstern in October of last year. WHOI senior scientist Chris German led a team of scientists and engineers from WHOI's Deep Submergence Lab and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to conduct NUI's first-ever dives to the seafloor beneath 100 percent ice-cover in the Arctic as part of an exploration for seafloor hydrothermal vents. German's project, funded by NASA, seeks to help inform future exploration for life on other ice-covered ocean worlds—for example, Jupiter's moon Europa. (Photo by Chris German, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
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    WHOI research engineer Lee Freitag, aboard the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy, displays the electronics that is part of a long-range sound-based communication and navigation system that he and a team of WHOI engineers developed and tested in the Arctic. The new system sends sound signals under the ice between buoys and autonomous underwater vehicles, so the vehicles can explore, send information, and receive navigation commands without surfacing. The sound can travel for hundreds of miles through naturally-occurring sound-conducting channels in the ocean water. (Photo courtesy of Lee Freitag, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
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    WHOI engineer Jennifer Batryn (right) and Raytheon engineer Edward Colgan prepare pH sensors on a surface mooring for deployment from the R/V Neil Armstrong at the Ocean Observatories Initiative's Pioneer Array. The array is located at the edge of the continental shelf off New England, a region of interest to scientists for its biological productivity and transition from relatively fresh, nutrient-poor water near shore to saltier, nutrient-rich water in the deep ocean. The scientific instruments on the Pioneer Array's moorings and ocean gliders transmit physical, chemical, and biological measurements via satellite in near-real time to researchers worldwide, via an open access online data portal. The OOI project is funded by the National Science Foundation. (Photo by Véronique LaCapra, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
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    WHOI engineers Jim Ryder (center) and Mark Anderson (right) assist the U.S. Antarctic Program's Ross Hein (left) to deploy a scientific mooring at the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Global Array in the Argentine Basin. Because the four OOI Global Arrays are located in the deep ocean, their mooring lines can be several miles long. This bright orange float contains an acoustic release, a device that can be triggered from the ship to divide the mooring into two parts while it's still in the water, allowing the mooring to be safely recovered. (Photo by Mitch Elend, University of Washington)
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    WHOI senior scientist Britt Raubenheimer gets help recovering an ultrasonic sensor she deployed near Duck, N.C., to measure beach erosion and waves during Hurricane Matthew. Raubenheimer lost her sight more than 10 years ago, but continues to do field research thanks to her guide dog Hugger and her first dog, Whit. After Whit died suddenly, Raubenheimer spent part of the summer training with Hugger on the basics of helping her get around and then quickly immersed her new partner in the complexities of aiding an active research scientist. (Photo by David Clark, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
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    The autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry can carry advanced scientific equipment and work down to 6,000 meters deep in the ocean, but it still needs help getting in the water. Lead mechanical engineer Justin Fujii pulls the suspended 2,750-pound robotic vehicle out over the test pool in WHOI's Iselin Marine Facility before overseeing ballast tests. The test results help the Sentry team ensure that the vehicle uses power efficiently, allowing longer dives and more data collection. (Photo by Ken Kostel, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering Department (AOPE) is a unique collection of scientists, engineers, technical support personnel and students conducting research into ocean processes from the turbulent surf zone to the abyssal depths. This research encompasses air-sea interaction on local and global scales, mixing processes, sediment transport, estuarine and coastal hydrodynamics, ocean acoustics, underwater communication, internal waves, signal processing, mooring dynamics, and physical-biological processes.

AOPE engineers design a wide array of instruments, vehicles, and observing systems that extend the reach of WHOI scientists and the entire oceanographic community to the furthest depth and breadth of ocean research and exploration.

AOPE is home to the world renowned manned submersible Alvin and unmanned vehicle Jason. The department also develops advanced moored and bottom-mounted observation systems for short- and long-term measurements. The Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO) integrates atmospheric and oceanographic measurements into a high-bandwidth, real-time data feed to WHOI and the worldwide web, providing a continuous source of interdisciplinary data for coastal and meteorological researchers.

Our web pages highlight five basic research areas found within the department: environmental fluid mechanics, ocean acoustics, submersible vehicles, observing systems and sensors, and engineering services. If you are looking for information on something specific, a search mechanism can be found in the upper right corner of this page. We hope you will enjoy your tour of AOPE, its people, and the research conducted here.