SCMSS Professor Erin Hackett Awarded Grant from the Office of Naval Research

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Assistant Professor Erin Hackett was recently awarded over a quarter million dollars to investigate the effects of the marine atmospheric boundary layer on electromagnetic (EM) waves, such as those produced by communication systems and radars.  The outcome of her research is to assist the U.S. Navy in development of an “EM forecast,” which improves their maritime domain awareness, including their evaluations of susceptibility.

The marine atmospheric boundary layer is the lowest 1 km of the atmosphere above the ocean surface and is a highly dynamic environment due to air-sea exchange, making it difficult to collect data at resolutions that will support accurate EM predictions, particularly at the lowest elevations.  Recently, Erin has led research examining the use of inverse methods to characterize this near-surface environment and its impact on electromagnetic fields.  Through this research she and her students have successfully demonstrated the recovery of important atmospheric characteristics using an inverse approach that incorporates EM simulations and synthetic EM data as well as completed a sensitivity study on the relative importance of different environmental parameters on EM waves.  Her inversion approach research will continue with the aid of the awarded grant, extended to include additional environmental parameters and evaluation of optimal sensor placement to increase the accuracy of inverse solutions.  The research will be conducted with assistance from graduate students enrolled in the School of Coastal and Marine Systems Science.

(Left) Reduction of received power relative to no atmosphere at various locations over a marine surface during normal (or standard) atmospheric conditions and (right) the same received power under abnormal (or non-standard) atmospheric conditions.  The amount of loss in particular locations changes dramatically based on the atmospheric conditions.