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When imaging the seafloor by sonar instrument calibration is often neglected and there is a loss of information, often due to disregarding the physical nature of the data or concentrating on the image. Three processes that are essential to the understanding of backscattering or sonar data are: sonar calibration to determine the transfer characteristics of the sonar; range compensation that addresses both geometric and radiometric factors; and beam pattern measurement or estimation.
Active sonar calibration using standard targets offers the potential to enable sonar output signals to be expressed in absolute physical units of scattering. A theoretical and experimental underpinning to support sonar imaging based on absolute, traceable measurement standards would result in a paradigm shift. Improved imaging capability would significantly improve the detection, classification and quantification of seafloor objects, properties and processes. It may also enable change detection, based on the comparison of images over time and with different sonar systems too.
We are undertaking research to enable the standardisation of active sonar calibration and its use in sonar quantitative imaging, including the characterisation of targets at different temperatures and depths.
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