Ocean Acoustics Program: A National Naval Responsibility

  • June 1, 2018: Planning letter target date
  • Aug. 1, 2018: Special Ocean Acoustics Award request deadline

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) Ocean Acoustics program supports basic research which addresses fundamental understandings of the physics relating to underwater sound. Areas of interest include the generation, propagation, and scattering of narrowband and broadband acoustic (and elastic) waves in the temporally and spatially varying ocean environment. Research that uses acoustics solely as a tool to study other environmental processes or that addresses an applied problem should be proposed to the appropriate directed programs (e.g., Physical Oceanography, Arctic and Global Prediction, Littoral Geosciences and Optics, and Ocean Engineering & Marine Systems). ONR may jointly support such efforts when a better understanding of the relevant acoustical propagation and scattering mechanisms are central to the research. In this case, the investigator could also seek coordination of support from the other program.

Links to online annual reports for many ongoing and recently completed studies are provided at the left side of this page. These annual reports can provide a detailed view of the types of research sponsored by the program in recent years. The Ocean Acoustics Program contains three thrust areas. Brief descriptions of these thrusts are presented below.

  • Shallow-Water Acoustics: This thrust aim is to understand propagation and scattering of acoustic energy in shallow-water ocean environments. Areas of research include: shallow-water scattering mechanisms related to reverberation and clutter; seabed acoustic measurements supporting geoacoustic inversion; acoustic propagation through internal waves and coastal ocean processes and the development of unified ocean/seabed/acoustic models, including scattering from rough surfaces, biologics and bubbles; and penetration/propagation within the porous seafloor.
  • Deep-Water Acoustics: This thrust addresses issues associated with low-frequency acoustic propagation, scattering, and communication over distances from tens to thousands of kilometers in the deep ocean where the sound channel may or may not be bottom limited. The effects of environmental variability induced by ocean internal waves, internal tides and mesoscale processes, and by bathymetric features including seamounts and ridges, on the stability, statistics, spatial distribution, and predictability of broadband acoustic signals remain an area of high interest. Also of interest, is the coherence and depth dependence of deep-water ambient noise.
  • Arctic Acoustics: The primary goal here is to understand the effects of changing Arctic conditions on acoustic propagation and ambient noise, particularly in under-ice environments. The thinning ice in the Arctic may result in reduced transmission loss compared to that observed during earlier investigations.

In addition to the investments under these thrusts, we continue to maintain more modest investments in research related to acoustic communications, particularly focusing on understanding and exploiting channel capacity.

Planning Letter/Pre-Proposal and Proposal Process

Planning letters (also referred to as pre-proposals, white papers or letters of intent) are encouraged in advance of formal proposals for greater efficiency. Planning letters save time and provide a starting point for a dialogue with the appropriate program officer. A planning letter should be a short description (not to exceed two typed pages including figures.) The planning letter should contain the following information: telephone number and email address of the originator, the goals, technical approach, relevant references, and an estimate of the funding requested. While our call for planning letters for the upcoming fiscal year have specific deadlines, unsolicited proposals and planning letters are accepted at any time throughout the year.

  • June 1, 2018: Pre-proposal target date (anticipate response soon after July 15)

Special Ocean Acoustics Awards

ONR awards graduate traineeship, postdoctoral fellowship and entry-level faculty awards in ocean acoustics. Requests should use the pre-proposal format with any additional guidance found in the Special Research Awards overview page.

  • Aug. 1, 2018: Special Award request deadline.
  • Oct. 1, 2018: Notification of awards granted.

Please send pre-proposals/planning letters to:

Program Officer
Code 322OA
875 North Randolph Street, Room 1080
Arlington, VA 22203-1995
Email: ONR.NCR.322OA.list.Ocean-Acoustics@navy.mil

Program Contact Information

Name: Dr. Robert Headrick

Title: Program Manager

Department: Code 32

Email for Questions: bob.headrick@navy.mil

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