Emerging fibre-optic technologies for real-time remote sensing of the ocean environment


POTTER John Potter

John Potter

Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

Weinecke Susann Weinecke

Susann Weinecke

Alcatel Submarine Networks

Dag Roar Hjelme Dag Roar Hjelme

Dag Roar Hjelme

Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

Bjornstad Steinar Bjornstad

Steinar Bjornstad



The idea of using optical back and forward scattering in Fibre-Optic (FO) cables to measure changes in strain arising from temperature and acoustic pressure fluctuations has been around for a couple of decades, but technology has only recently caught up with the dream and now empowers us to gather data with sufficient signal to noise to be useful in detecting and tracking a wide range of phenomena, from distant storms through earthquakes, ships and marine mammals. Technical limitations are quickly being pushed back. For example, it is now no longer necessary to have a 'dark fibre' for sensing. It will soon be possible to sense through optical repeaters. State of Polarisation techniques are rapidly evolving. Distributed Acoustic Sensing is being implemented in a wide range of applications. Coded pulses offer the potential to sample at higher frequencies over longer cables. Collectively, FO sensing offers an exciting new way to sense the ocean that compliments existing techniques. How can we best develop these ideas? How can we best integrate these new capabilities with existing observational systems? What is the current state of the art and what is coming over the horizon?


John Potter is a marine physical scientist with degrees in mathematics, physics, polar oceanography and glaciology coupled with extensive senior management & technology development experience. He combines a holistic 'big picture' vision with an environmental conservation and sustainability focus.
Specialisations include environmental impact in UW acoustics, oceanography, ambient noise and marine mammals. John is currently focussing on autonomous vehicles, machine intelligence, communications, distributed autonomous sensing networks and their application to sustainable ocean practises.
John is a Fellow of the IEEE, a Fellow of MTS and an International Fellow of The Explorers' Club, with some 60,000 blue-water sailing miles under his keel. It is no longer true that he neither owns nor operates a television.

Susann Wienecke is a geophysicist with 20 years’ experience who is passionate about technology development and innovation. Dr. Wienecke has worked in the oil and gas sector in Exploration, Production and Research creating innovative and patented solutions for geophysical imaging problems and data interpretation. She joined Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) Norway as a Senior Application Engineer three years ago to develop Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) technology for geoscientific and oceanographic applications.

Dag Roar Hjelme is Full Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) where he teaches sensor systems and electronic system design and works on a broad spread of photonics research, including medical imaging. Prof. Hjelme has published over 200 articles in the fields of photonics over a career spanning 40 years.

Steinar Bjornstad is a strategic competence and research manager at Tampnet AS, having previously worked in several other companies. In 2004 he became an Associate Professor in the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and from 2018 has also been a Senior Research Scientist at SIMULA Oslo MET, Norway. He has a Masters in physics from the University of Oslo (1991) and a Ph.D. in telecommunication from NTNU (2004). He has been involved in many EU projects during his work at Telenor R&D over a 10-year period doing research on optical networks. He was responsible for the development of Video over IP products at Network Electronics (now Nevion) before joining Ericsson Norway, where he was responsible for the system design of Ethernet switches. He founded TransPacket in 2009 and has been involved in IEEE 802.1 Ethernet and 1914.1/1914.3 next generation fronthaul interface/radio over Ethernet standardisation. He is an author on more than 60 scientific papers and has several international patent-families.