SMART Cables for Observing the Global Ocean: Science and Implementation

Frontiers in Marine Science. 2019;6 DOI 10.3389/fmars.2019.00424

 

Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Frontiers in Marine Science

ISSN: 2296-7745 (Online)

Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.

LCC Subject Category: Science: Natural history (General): General. Including nature conservation, geographical distribution

Country of publisher: Switzerland

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML, XML

 

AUTHORS

Bruce M. Howe (Ocean and Resources Engineering, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI, United States)
Brian K. Arbic (Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States)
Jérome Aucan (Laboratoire d’Études en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS), Toulouse, France)
Christopher R. Barnes (School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada)
Nigel Bayliff (SIN Medida Limited, Newbury, United Kingdom)
Nathan Becker (Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, Honolulu, HI, United States)
Rhett Butler (Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI, United States)
Laurie Doyle (Alcatel Submarine Networks, Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Shane Elipot (Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, FL, United States)
Gregory C. Johnson (0Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Seattle, WA, United States)
Felix Landerer (1Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States)
Stephen Lentz (2Ocean Specialists, Inc., Stuart, FL, United States)
Douglas S. Luther (3Department of Oceanography, Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI, United States)
Malte Müller (4Development Centre for Weather Forecasting, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, Norway)
John Mariano (5DRG Undersea Consulting, Inc., Morristown, NJ, United States)
Kate Panayotou (6GHD Consulting, London, United Kingdom)
Charlotte Rowe (7Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, United States)
Hiroshi Ota (8International Telecommunications Union, United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland)
Y. Tony Song (1Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States)
Maik Thomas (9Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), Potsdam, Germany)
Maik Thomas (0Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany)
Preston N. Thomas (1Thomas Strategies, Menlo Park, CA, United States)
Philip Thompson (2Sea Level Center, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI, United States)
Frederik Tilmann (9Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), Potsdam, Germany)
Frederik Tilmann (0Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany)
Tobias Weber (9Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), Potsdam, Germany)
Stuart Weinstein (Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, Honolulu, HI, United States)

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 14 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

The ocean is key to understanding societal threats including climate change, sea level rise, ocean warming, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Because the ocean is difficult and costly to monitor, we lack fundamental data needed to adequately model, understand, and address these threats. One solution is to integrate sensors into future undersea telecommunications cables. This is the mission of the SMART subsea cables initiative (Science Monitoring And Reliable Telecommunications). SMART sensors would “piggyback” on the power and communications infrastructure of a million kilometers of undersea fiber optic cable and thousands of repeaters, creating the potential for seafloor-based global ocean observing at a modest incremental cost. Initial sensors would measure temperature, pressure, and seismic acceleration. The resulting data would address two critical scientific and societal issues: the long-term need for sustained climate-quality data from the under-sampled ocean (e.g., deep ocean temperature, sea level, and circulation), and the near-term need for improvements to global tsunami warning networks. A Joint Task Force (JTF) led by three UN agencies (ITU/WMO/UNESCO-IOC) is working to bring this initiative to fruition. This paper explores the ocean science and early warning improvements available from SMART cable data, and the societal, technological, and financial elements of realizing such a global network. Simulations show that deep ocean temperature and pressure measurements can improve estimates of ocean circulation and heat content, and cable-based pressure and seismic-acceleration sensors can improve tsunami warning times and earthquake parameters. The technology of integrating these sensors into fiber optic cables is discussed, addressing sea and land-based elements plus delivery of real-time open data products to end users. The science and business case for SMART cables is evaluated. SMART cables have been endorsed by major ocean science organizations, and JTF is working with cable suppliers and sponsors, multilateral development banks and end users to incorporate SMART capabilities into future cable projects. By investing now, we can build up a global ocean network of long-lived SMART cable sensors, creating a transformative addition to the Global Ocean Observing System.