Collaborative Research: Optimizing Multibeam Data Acquisition Operations and Quality for the U.S. Academic Research Fleet
DESCRIPTION: This collaborative effort proposes to establish technical resources and new communication mechanisms to develop and share common information, tools, and expertise regarding the operation and monitoring of multibeam sonars across the U.S. Academic Fleet. The strategy is to create a community of stakeholders including representatives from each operating institution, complemented by key outside experts from the user and technical/engineering communities that can assist in providing guidance on a broad array of multibeam issues to improve how these data are collected and assessed. In addition, the effort proposes to establish a Multibeam Advisory Committee (MAC) that will act as an overall coordinating body with the primary goal of supporting mapping operations onboard vessels in the U.S. academic research fleet and ensuring that high quality data are consistently acquired. They will also assemble small groups of individuals from the MAC and community of stakeholders into technical teams, each of which is tasked with specific components of multibeam system performance evaluation. Broader Impacts: The principal impact of the present proposal is under criterion two, providing infrastructure support for scientists to use the vessel and its shared-use instrumentation in support of their NSF-funded oceanographic research projects (which individually undergo separate review by the relevant research program of NSF). The support of maintenance and operation of shared-use instrumentation allows NSF-funded researchers from any US university or lab access to working, calibrated instruments for their research, reducing the cost of that research, and expanding the base of potential researchers. All users (or the appropriate funding agencies) share support for basic pooled services on the vessel equally, with NSF paying a share of the support costs based on fractional usage of the vessel during the year.