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Mike Harrington

Director, EPS Department & Senior Principal Engineer





Department Affiliation

Electronic & Photonic Systems


B.S. Electrical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1990

M.S. Electrical Engineering, University of Washington - Seattle, 1992


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Trends in low-frequency underwater noise off the Oregon coast and impacts of COVID-19 pandemic

Dahl, P.H., D.R. Dall'Osto, and M.J. Harrington, "Trends in low-frequency underwater noise off the Oregon coast and impacts of COVID-19 pandemic," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 149, 4073-4077, doi:10.1121/10.0005192, 2021.

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1 Jun 2021

Approximately six years of underwater noise data recorded from the Regional Cabled Array network are examined to study long-term trends. The data originate from station HYS14 located 87 km offshore of Newport, OR. The results indicate that the third-octave band level centered at 63 Hz and attributable to shipping activity is reduced in the spring of 2020 by about 1.6 dB relative to the mean of the prior five years, owing to the reduced economic activity initiated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The results are subtle, as the noise reduction is less than the typical seasonal fluctuation associated with warming ocean surface temperatures in the summer that reduces mode excitation support at typical ship source depths, causing a repeated annual level change on the order of 4 dB at shipping frequencies. Seasonality of the noise contribution near 20 Hz from fin whales is also discussed. Corroboration of a COVID-19 effect on shipping noise is offered by an analysis of automatic identification system shipping data and shipping container activity for Puget Sound, over the same six-year period, which shows a reduction in the second quarter of 2020 by ~19% and ~17%, respectively, relative to the mean of the prior five years.

A thirty-month seafloor test of the A-o-A method for calibrating pressure gauges

Wilcock, W.S.D., D.A. Manalang, E.K. Fredrickson, M.J. Harrington, G. Cram, J. Tilley, J. Burnett, D. Martin, T. Kobayashi, and J.M. Paros, "A thirty-month seafloor test of the A-o-A method for calibrating pressure gauges," Front. Earth Sci., 8, doi:10.3389/feart.2020.600671, 2021.

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15 Jan 2021

Geodetic observations in the oceans are important for understanding plate tectonics, earthquake cycles and volcanic processes. One approach to seafloor geodesy is the use of seafloor pressure gauges to sense vertical changes in the elevation of the seafloor after correcting for variations in the weight of the overlying oceans and atmosphere. A challenge of using pressure gauges is the tendency for the sensors to drift. The A-0-A method is a new approach for correcting drift. A valve is used to periodically switch, for a short time, the measured pressure from the external ocean to the inside of the instrument housing at atmospheric pressure. The internal pressure reading is compared to an accurate barometer to measure the drift which is assumed to be the same at low and high pressures. We describe a 30-months test of the A-0-A method at 900 m depth on the MARS cabled observatory in Monterey Bay using an instrument that includes two A-0-A calibrated pressure gauges and a three-component accelerometer. Prior to the calibrations, the two pressure sensors drift by 6 and 2 hPa, respectively. After the calibrations, the offsets of the corrected pressure sensors are consistent with each other to within 0.2 hPa. The drift corrected detided external pressure measurements show a 0.5 hPa/yr trend of increasing pressures during the experiment. The measurements are corrected for instrument subsidence based on the changes in tilt measured by the accelerometer, but the trend may include a component of subsidence that did not affect tilt. However, the observed trend of increasing pressure, closely matches that calculated from satellite altimetry and repeat conductivity, temperature and depth casts at a nearby location, and increasing pressures are consistent with the trend expected for the El Niño Southern Oscillation. We infer that the A-0-A drift corrections are accurate to better than one part in 105 per year. Additional long-term tests and comparisons with oceanographic observations and other methods for drift correction will be required to understand if the accuracy the A-0-A drift corrections matches the observed one part in 106 per year consistency between the two pressure sensors.

Lessons learned from the United States ocean observatories initiative

Smith, L.M., and 16 others including G.S. Cram and M. Harrington, "Lessons learned from the United States ocean observatories initiative," Front. Mar. Sci., 5, 494, doi:10.3389/fmars.2018.00494, 2019.

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4 Jan 2019

The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) is a United States National Science Foundation-funded major research facility that provides continuous observations of the ocean and seafloor from coastal and open ocean locations in the Atlantic and Pacific. Multiple cycles of OOI infrastructure deployment, recovery, and refurbishment have occurred since operations began in 2014. This heterogeneous ocean observing infrastructure with multidisciplinary sampling in important but challenging locations has provided new scientific and engineering insights into the operation of a sustained ocean observing system. This paper summarizes the challenges, successes, and failures experienced to date and shares recommendations on best practices that will be of benefit to the global ocean observing community.

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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