Lam, F.P, P.J. Haley, Jr., J. Janmaat, P.F.J. Lermusiaux, W.G. Leslie, and M.W. Schouten, 2009. At-sea Real-time Coupled Four-dimensional Oceanographic and Acoustic Forecasts during Battlespace Preparation 2007. Special issue of the Journal of Marine Systems on "Coastal processes: challenges for monitoring and prediction", Drs. J.W. Book, Prof. M. Orlic and Michel Rixen (Guest Eds.), 78, S306-S320, doi: 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2009.01.029.
Systems capable of forecasting ocean properties and acoustic performance in the littoral ocean are becoming a useful capability for scientific and operational exercises. The coupling of a data-assimilative nested ocean modeling system with an acoustic propagation modeling system was carried out at sea for the first time, within the scope of Battlespace Preparation 2007 (BP07) that was part of Marine Rapid Environmental Assessment (MREA07) exercises. The littoral region for our studies was southeast of the island of Elba ( Italy) in the Tyrrhenian basin east of Corsica and Sardinia. During BP07, several vessels collected in situ ocean data, based in part on recommendations from oceanographic forecasts. The data were assimilated into a four- dimensional high-resolution ocean modeling system. Sound-speed forecasts were then used as inputs for bearing- and range-dependent acoustic propagation forecasts. Data analyses are carried out and the set-up of the coupled oceanographic-acoustic system as well as the results of its real-time use are described. A significant finding is that oceanographic variability can considerably influence acoustic propagation properties, including the probability of detection, even in this apparently quiet region around Elba. This strengthens the importance of coupling at-sea acoustic modeling to real-time ocean forecasting. Other findings include the challenges involved in downscaling basin-scale modeling systems to high-resolution littoral models, especially in the Mediterranean Sea. Due to natural changes, global human activities and present model resolutions, the assimilation of synoptic regional ocean data is recommended in the region.