Airborne Lidar Bathymetry Beam Diagnostics Using an Underwater Optical Detector Array

TitleAirborne Lidar Bathymetry Beam Diagnostics Using an Underwater Optical Detector Array
Publication TypeThesis
AuthorsBirkebak, M
Degree and ProgramMaster of Science
DegreeOcean Engineering/Ocean Mapping
Number of Pages118
Date Published05/2017
UniversityUniversity of New Hampshire
LocationDurham, NH
Keywordsairborne lidar bathymetry, alb, underwater optical detector array

The surface geometry of air-water interface is considered as an important factor affecting the performance of Airborne Lidar Bathymetry (ALB), and laser optical communication through the water surface. ALB is a remote sensing technique that utilizes a pulsed green (532 nm) laser mounted to an airborne platform in order to measure water depth. The water surface (i.e., air-water interface) can distort the light beam’s ray-path geometry and add uncertainty to range calculation measurements. Previous studies on light refracting through a complex water surface are heavily dependent on theoretical models and simulations. In addition, only very limited work has been conducted to validate these theoretical models using experiments under well-controlled laboratory conditions.

The goal of the study is to establish a clear relationship between water-surface conditions and the uncertainty of ALB measurement. This relationship will be determined by conducting more extensive empirical measurements to characterize the changes in beam slant path associated with a variety of short wavelength wind ripples, typically seen in ALB survey conditions. This study will focus on the effects of capillary and gravity-capillary waves with surface wavelengths smaller than the diameter of the laser beam on the water surface. Simulations using Monte-Carlo techniques of the ALB beam footprints and the environmental conditions were used to analyze the ray-path geometries. Based on the simulation results, laboratory experiments were then designed to test key parameters that have the greatest contribution on beam path and direction through the water. The laser beam dispersion experiments were conducted in well-controlled laboratory setting at the University of New Hampshire’s Wave and Tow tank.

The spatial elevations of the water surface were independently measured using a high resolution wave staff. The refracted laser beam footprint was measured using an underwater optical detector consisting of a 6x6 array of photodiodes. Image processing techniques were used to estimate the laser’s incidence angle intercepted by the detector array. Beam patterns that resulted from intersection between the laser beam light field underwater and the detector array were modeled and used to calculate changes in position and orientation for water surface conditions containing wavelengths less than 0.1m. Finally, a total horizontal uncertainty (THU) model was estimated, which can be implemented in total propagated uncertainty (TPU) models for reporting as a measure of the quality of each measurement. The wave refraction error for various sea states and beam characteristics was successfully quantified using both experimental and analytical techniques.