IGPP Seminar Series

Self-Powered Underwater Robot for Real-Time Ocean Data Assimilation and Forecasting

by Yi Chao
UCLA, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences & JIFRESSE and Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Like Numerical Weather Prediction, ocean forecasting is limited by how well ocean can be measured on the routine basis. While ships and moorings are expensive to operate, today’s unmanned or autonomous underwater vehicles (UUVs or AUVs including profiling floats and underwater gliders) must be frequently recovered for battery change/recharging. This talk will introduce a fundamentally new platform that can harvest energy from the environment and therefore have the potential to stay underwater over an extended period of time. The idea is to extract the local renewable thermal energy in the ocean to power the vehicle completely including buoyancy engine as well as navigation/communication and scientific sensors. This talk will describe a Phase Change Material (PCM) that can be melted in warm surface waters and frozen in cold deep waters. This melting/frozen process can generate a significant volume change and therefore a high-pressure fluid that can drive a hydraulic motor for power generation. A prototype thermally recharging profiling float had been developed and deployed near Hawaii in November 2009. Preliminary results from this year-long testing will be presented, and its potential in monitoring long-term ocean and climate change will be discussed. Innovative use of this type of observational data in regional ocean data assimilation to enable real-time forecasting will be presented. Results from several field experiments using the battery-powered underwater robots will be described in order to test and validate the developed regional ocean forecasting system. Plans to integrate the physics/dynamics with biogeochemistry, marine ecosystem and fish and to extend this real-time ocean forecasting system to the climate time scale associated with El Nino and La Nina will also be discussed.
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
3853 Slichter Hall
Refreshments at 3:45 PM
Lecture at 4:00 PM