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All in sight
Date:7/2/2009

Bremen, Germany overcomes these challenges. The system, called FIRST Navy, was installed during Polarstern's last port call on a highly stabilized platform in the ship's crow's nest at a height of about 28 metres. The system generates five thermographic all-round images per second with a resolution of 7200 x 563 pixels of about 4 megapixels each. The stabilization compensates the ship's movements with the effect that the upper edge of the image is always aligned with the horizon and the surrounding water surface does not move out of the picture. The system produces about a terabyte of data each day.

Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association currently develop software to evaluate this data volume automatically. "We are very happy that the hardware of the system works successfully on board of Polarstern. The software is designed to search the stream of pictures for whale spout", explains Dr. Olaf Boebel, head of the research group Oceanic Acoustics at the Alfred Wegener Institute. He is in charge of the research project MAPS (Marine Mammal Perimeter Surveillance) which runs since early 2009. The aim is to transmit direction and distance of a whale sighting together with the respective video sequences to the ship's command in real-time. Ships equipped with such a system can, for the protection of the whales, respond by evasive manoeuvres or interrupt seismic measurements, as appropriate. Furthermore, the system can directly support research projects concerning whale population in the scarcely researched Antarctic regions. Further application possibilities regarding ship security (evasion of collisions with growlers) and sea ice research (ice coverage at small-scales) are important, not least with regard to the diminishing Arctic ice cover.


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Contact: Dr. Olaf Boebel
Olaf.Boebel@awi.de
49-471-483-11879
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert  

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