The major source of degradation in imaging underwater is from scattering by the medium itself and the particles within. Recent research indicates that under certain conditions, such degradations can be caused by the variations of index of refraction associated with temperature and salinity micro-structures in the ocean. These would inherently affect the optical signal transmission underwater, potentially impacting diver visibility, search and rescue, mine detection and identification, and optical communication. The effects of optical turbulence are not yet fully understood.
Weilin (Will) Hou is an oceanographer at the U. S. Naval Research Laboratory, Ocean Sciences Branch (Stennis Space Center, MS). He received his PhD from the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, in 1997. His research interests include ocean optics, underwater imaging, optical turbulence, remote sensing/lidar, numerical simulation, data management, instrumentation and platforms including unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles.
He serves as chair of the annual Ocean Sensing and Monitoring conference as part of SPIE Defense, Security and Sensing symposium. He is the editor of SPIE Proceedings Volumes 8030, 7678, and 7317.
In this SPIE Newsroom interview, Hou talks about the challenges posed by optical turbulence, particulates, and different approaches to overcoming them.