User expectations for multibeam echo sounders backscatter strength data-looking back into the future
Lucieer, V and Roche, M and Degrendele, K and Malik, M and Dolan, M and Larmarche, G, User expectations for multibeam echo sounders backscatter strength data-looking back into the future, Marine Geophysical Research, 39, (1-2) pp. 23-40. ISSN 0025-3235 (2018) [Refereed Article]
With the ability of multibeam echo sounders (MBES) to measure backscatter strength (BS) as a function of true angle of insonification across the seafloor, came a new recognition of the potential of backscatter measurements to remotely characterize the properties of the seafloor. Advances in transducer design, digital electronics, signal processing capabilities, navigation, and graphic display devices, have improved the resolution and particularly the dynamic range available to sonar and processing software manufacturers. Alongside these improvements the expectations of what the data can deliver has also grown. In this paper, we identify these user-expectations and explore how MBES backscatter is utilized by different communities involved in marine seabed research at present, and the aspirations that these communities have for the data in the future. The results presented here are based on a user survey conducted by the GeoHab (Marine Geological and Biological Habitat Mapping) association. This paper summarises the different processing procedures employed to extract useful information from MBES backscatter data and the various intentions for which the user community collect the data. We show how a range of backscatter output products are generated from the different processing procedures, and how these results are taken up by different scientific disciplines, and also identify common constraints in handling MBES BS data. Finally, we outline our expectations for the future of this unique and important data source for seafloor mapping and characterisation.