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Jason Gobat

Senior Principal Oceanographer





Research Interests

Sensor-Platform Integration, Towed Vehicles, Autonomous Vehicles, Moorings, Cable Dynamics, Instrumentation, Data Telemetry


Dr. Jason Gobat is a Senior Principal Oceanographer at the Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington. He is the senior technologist for the Integrative Observational Platforms (IOP) group which develops systems and platforms for observational oceanography at scales ranging from microstructure to long-term climate. IOP is the primary development group for Seaglider and the next generation Seaglider SGX AUVs. 

Gobat has led the  development of endurance extension, sensor integration, and under ice autonomy and navigation projects for Seaglider since 2004. As part of the Ocean Robots Beneath Ice Shelves Antarctic campaign  (2018–2019) he led the development and field effort that deployed Seagliders on thirteen-month missions to map the previously unexplored  ice cavity beneath the Dotson Ice Shelf and complete a full annual cycle of ocean observations.

He is currently responsible for software and hardware development for new generation Seaglider electronics. He has led or participated in 23 major oceanographic research cruises and 6 Arctic field campaigns. 

Department Affiliation

Ocean Physics


B.A. Philosophy, University of California - San Diego, 1993

B.S. Structural Engineering, University of California - San Diego, 1993

M.S. Oceanographic Engineering, MIT/WHOI Joint Program, 1997

Ph.D. Oceanographic Engineering, MIT/WHOI Joint Program, 2000


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Multi-month dissipation estimates using microstructure from autonomous underwater gliders

Rainville, L., J.I. Gobat, C.M. Lee, and G.B. Shilling, "Multi-month dissipation estimates using microstructure from autonomous underwater gliders," Oceanography, 30, 49-50, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2017.219, 2017.

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1 Jun 2017

Ocean turbulence is inherently episodic and patchy. It is the primary mechanism that transforms water mass properties and drives the exchanges of heat, freshwater, and momentum across the water column. Given its episodic nature, capturing the net impact of turbulence via direct measurements requires sustained observations over extended temporal and/or broad spatial scales.

Towards real-time under-ice acoustic navigation at mesoscale ranges

Webster, S.E., L.E. Freitag, C.M. Lee, and J.I. Gobat, "Towards real-time under-ice acoustic navigation at mesoscale ranges," Proc. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 26-30 May, Seattle, WA, 537-544, doi:10.1109/ICRA.2015.7139231 (IEEE, 2015).

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26 May 2015

This paper describes an acoustic navigation system that provides mesoscale coverage (hundreds of kilometers) under the ice and presents results from the first multi-month deployment in the Arctic. The hardware consists of ice-tethered acoustic navigation beacons transmitting at 900 Hz that broadcast their latitude and longitude plus several bytes of optional control data. The real-time under-ice navigation algorithm, based on a Kalman filter, uses time-of-flight measurements from these sources to simultaneously estimate vehicle position and depth-averaged local currents. The algorithm described herein was implemented on Seagliders, a type of autonomous underwater glider (AUG), but the underlying theory is applicable to other autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). As part of an extensive field campaign from March to September 2014, eleven acoustic sources and four Seagliders were deployed to monitor the seasonal melt of the marginal ice zone (MIZ) in the Beaufort and northern Chukchi Seas. Beacon-to-beacon performance was excellent due to a sound duct at 100 m depth where the transmitters were positioned; the travel-time error at 200 km has a standard deviation of 40 m when sound-speed is known, and ranges in excess of 400 km were obtained. Results with the Seagliders, which were not regularly within the duct, showed reliable acoustic ranges up to 100 km and more sparse but repeatable range measurements to over 400 km. Navigation results are reported for the real-time algorithm run in post-processing mode, using data from a 295-hour segment with significant time spent under ice.

Preliminary results in under-ice acoustic navigation for Seagliders in Davis Strait

Webster, S.E., C.M. Lee, and J.I. Gobat, "Preliminary results in under-ice acoustic navigation for Seagliders in Davis Strait," Proc., OCEANS 2014, 14-19 September, St. John's Newfoundland, doi:10.1109/OCEANS.2014.7003070 (IEEE, 2014).

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14 Sep 2014

This paper presents an under-ice acoustic navigation system developed for Seaglider, a buoyancy-driven autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), and post-processed navigation results from one of fourteen glider deployments between 2006 and 2014 in Davis Strait. Seagliders typically receive all geolocation information from global positioning system (GPS) signals received while they are at the surface, and perform dead reckoning while underwater. Extended under-ice deployments, where access to GPS is denied due to the inability of the glider to surface, require an alternative source of geolocation information. In the deployments described herein, geolocation information is provided by range measurements from mooring-mounted acoustic navigation sources at fixed, known locations. In this paper we describe the navigation system used in Davis Strait and present navigation results from a six degree-of-freedom Kalman filter using post-processed navigation data.

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In The News

One year into the mission, autonomous ocean robots set a record in survey of Antarctic ice shelf

UW News, Hannah Hickey

A team of ocean robots deployed in January 2018 have, over the past year, been the first self-guided ocean robots to successfully travel under an ice sheet and return to report long-term observations.

23 Jan 2019

Underwater robots survive a year probing climate change's effects on Antarctic ice

GeekWire, Alan Boyle

A squadron of Seagliders and EM-APEX floats was sent to probe the waters beneath the Dotson Ice Shelf in Antarctica one year ago. They have transmitted their data via satellite successfully, proving that these robots and approach can work in this harsh, remote environment.

22 Jan 2019

Underwater robots to measure Antarctica climate threat

CNN, Lynda Kinkade and Shelby Rose

Scientists with the University of Washington in conjunction with Paul G. Allen Philanthropies are sending robots to Antarctica for as long as a year in what will be the longest mission ever undertaken in the region. Seagliders and profiling floats will focus on Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica, the continent's fastest-melting ice sheet. The aim: to gain more extensive data about the rate of ice loss and thus more accurately predict future sea level rise.

27 Jan 2018

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Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center