Recent advances in real-time monitoring of uncertainty due to refraction have demonstrated the power of estimating and visualizing uncertainty over the entire potential sounding space. This representation format, referred to as an uncertainty wedge, can be used to help solve difficult survey planning problems regarding the spatio-temporal variability of the watercolumn. Though initially developed to work in-line with underway watercolumn sampling hardware (e.g. moving vessel profilers), uncertainty wedge analysis techniques are extensible to investigate problems associated with low-density watercolumn sampling in which only a few sound speed casts are gathered per day. As uncertainty wedge analysis techniques require no sounding data, the overhead of post-processing soundings is circumvented in the situation when one needs to quickly ascertain the impact of a particular sampling regime. In keeping with the spirit of the underlying real-time monitoring tools, a just in time analysis of sound speed casts can help the field operator assess the effects of watercolumn variability during acquisition and objectively seek a watercolumn sampling regime which would balance the opposing goals of maximizing survey efficiency and maintaining reasonable sounding accuracy. In this work, we investigate the particular problem of estimating the uncertainty that would be associated with a particular low-density sound speed sampling regime. A pre-analysis technique is proposed in which a high-density set of sound speed profiles provides a baseline against which various low-density sampling regimes can be tested, the end goal being to ascertain the penalty in sounding confidence that would be associated with a particular low-density sampling regime. In other words, by knowing too much about the watercolumn, one can objectively quantify the impact of not knowing enough. In addition to the goal-seeking field application outlined earlier, this allows for more confi- dent attribution of uncertainty to soundings, a marked improvement over current approaches to refraction uncertainty estimation.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal Title

U.S. Hydrographic Conference

Conference Date

May 11 - May 14, 2009

Publisher Place

Norfolk, VA, USA


Hydrographic Society of America

Document Type

Conference Proceeding