Wind speed measured from underwater gliders using passive acoustics

Pierre Cauchy, Karen Heywood, Nathan Merchant, Bastien Queste, Pierre Testor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Wind speed measurements are needed to understand ocean-atmosphere coupling processes and their effects on climate. Satellite observations provide sufficient spatial and temporal coverage, but are lacking adequate calibration, while ship- and mooring-based observations are spatially limited and have technical shortcomings. However, wind-generated underwater noise can be used to measure wind speed, a method known as Weather Observation Through Ambient Noise (WOTAN). Here, we adapt the WOTAN technique for application to ocean gliders, enabling calibrated wind speed measurements to be combined with contemporaneous oceanographic profiles over extended spatial and temporal scales. We demonstrate the methodology in three glider surveys in the Mediterranean Sea during winter 2012 – 2013. Wind speeds ranged from 2 to 21.5 m s-1, and the relationship to underwater ambient noise measured from the glider was quantified. A two-regime linear model is proposed, which validates a previous linear model for light winds (below 12 m s-1) and identifies a regime change in the noise generation mechanism at higher wind speeds. This proposed model improves on previous work by extending the validated model range to strong winds of up to 21.5 m s-1. The acquisition, data processing and calibration steps are described. Future applications for glider-based wind speed observations and the development of a global wind speed estimation model are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2305–2321
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Early online date27 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Passive acoustics
  • gliders
  • air sea interaction
  • PAM
  • wind speed
  • soundscape

Cite this