Research

Research Areas

Environmental Fluid Mechanics

Environmental fluid mechanics focuses on ocean circulation and the physical processes driving waves and currents. Fluid and sediment transport, gas transfer, and wave dynamics are investigated to further our knowledge of ocean physics, erosion, and global climate.

Observing Systems & Sensors

Observatories are becoming more popular for continuous, long-term monitoring of ocean and meteorological processes. These observation systems are stable platforms from which a variety of data such as water temperature, wave height, wind and current speed is collected and fed back to scientists for analysis.

Ocean Acoustics

Whether the objective is to map the ocean floor or determine the location of marine life, acoustics allows scientists to investigate large areas of the ocean or examine intricate water column properties.

Vehicles & Submarines

AOPE’s underwater vehicles and submarines allow the exploration of the ocean depths and vast regions of the seafloor that, until recently, had been relatively unknown. They contribute to ongoing investigations of hydrothermal vents, seafloor ridges, and trenches while allowing up-close study of ocean life and processes.

Engineering Services

AOPE engineers provide a range of services to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution community, including at-sea support and the development of oceanographic instrumentation.

Rigging Shop

The Mooring Operations, Engineering and Field Support Group offers shore-side and at-sea support. With more than 125 years of collective sea-going experience, this support group possesses expertise in all aspects of innovative mooring design, fabrication, cruise planning and logistics, and supervision of deck operations.

Advanced Engineering Laboratory

Engineers and scientists work together to develop oceanographic and meteorological instrumentation that monitor ocean and climate processes.

Deep Submergence Laboratory

Engineers develop systems for remote, manned and unmanned exploration of the undersea world of hydrothermal vents, ocean ridges and ranges, and unique marine species.

WARPLab

Marine robots live in a communication starved environment where autonomy is an absolute requirement for their deployment. WHOI's Autonomous Robotics and Perception Laboratory (WARPLab) is interested in the algorithmic and machine learning challenges in making autonomous exploration robots that can perceive and understand their surroundings at various levels of abstraction to plan their mission.

Alvin Operations

The Alvin Operations group is responsible for the upkeep and general maintenance of the U.S. Navy-owned Deep Submergence Vehicle (DSV) Alvin.

Labs & Groups

Acoustic Communications Group

Acoustic communications and navigation systems provide telemetry, control, and positioning for undersea instrumentation and vehicles. The Acoustic Communications Group at WHOI has been developing and performing research in this area for more than 15 years. Their work focuses on developing new methods and improving existing systems for underwater acoustic communication, particularly underwater modems. The group often collaborates with MIT, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, the Navy Surface Warfare Center, University of Washington, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, SAIC, Penn State, and many others.

Advanced Engineering Lab (AEL)

The Advanced Engineering Laboratory is made up of engineers and technical support personnel who work with scientists to develop oceanographic instrumentation. Instruments such as buoys to measure meteorological data, sensors for underwater navigation, whale tagging devices, and the Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE) have been designed at AEL.

Coastal and Ocean Fluid Dynamics Lab (COFDL)

The Coastal and Ocean Fluid Dynamics Laboratory focuses on oceanic processes affecting circulation and transport of sediment, the exchange of heat and momentum across the air-water interface, and dispersal of organisms within the ocean layers. Lab members study coastal and estuarine processes, the surface and bottom boundary layers of the ocean, and mixing in the ocean interior.

Deep Submergence Lab (DSL)/Submersive Eng. Lab (SEL)

The Deep Submergence Lab develops systems for remote, unmanned exploration of the ocean depths and is the home of remotely-operated vehicles and instruments ARGO, ABE, Jason/Medea, and the DSL-120 sonar sled. The Submersible Engineering & Operations Lab (SEL) is an integral part of DSL.

Mooring Operations & Engineering (MOE)

The Mooring Operations & Engineering (MOE) group provides a full range of mooring services from design and fabrication through deployment and recovery. Collectively, this team brings more than 100 years of experience to the oceanographic community worldwide.

Ocean Acoustics & Signals Laboratory (OASL)

Research concentrates on the use of acoustics to measure ocean properties, temperature, and to detect biological and geological objects in the ocean. Ocean acoustic tomography, shallow water acoustic propagation, and acoustic scattering in the ocean from zooplankton are studied. Projects include acoustic monitoring of sediment transport off the California and New Jersey coasts.

Oceanographic Systems Lab (OSL)

The Oceanographic Systems Laboratory is made up of several engineers who work with scientists to develop complex ocean systems including the Long-Term Environmental Observatory (LEO-15) and the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO). Ocean monitoring devices such as the Remote Environmental Monitoring UnitS (REMUS) and the Towed Oceanographic Survey System (TOSS) were developed by OSL personnel.

Ocean Observatory Initiative (OOI)

The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) is an advanced system of integrated, scientific platforms and sensors commissioned in 2016 that measure physical, chemical, geological, and biological properties and processes from the seafloor to the sea surface in key coastal and open-ocean sites of the Atlantic and Pacific. The facility was designed to address critical questions about the Earth-ocean system, including climate change, ecosystem variability, ocean acidification, plate-scale seismicity and submarine volcanoes, and carbon cycling with the goal of better understanding the ocean and our planet. In September 2018, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it had awarded a coalition of academic and oceanographic research organizations a five-year, $220 million contract to operate and maintain the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). The coalition, led by WHOI with direction from the NSF and guidance from the OOI Facilities Board, includes the University of Washington (UW), Oregon State University (OSU), and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

WARPLab

Marine robots live in a communication starved environment where autonomy is an absolute requirement for their deployment. WHOI's Autonomous Robotics and Perception Laboratory (WARPLab) is interested in the algorithmic and machine learning challenges in making autonomous exploration robots that can perceive and understand their surroundings at various levels of abstraction to plan their mission.