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Peter Dahl

Senior Principal Engineer

Professor, Mechanical Engineering





Research Interests

Underwater Acoustics, Acoustic Remote Sensing


Dr. Dahl is a Senior Principal Engineer in the Acoustics Department and a Professor in the University of Washington's Department of Mechanical Engineering. Professor Dahl's research is in areas of acoustics with primary focus on underwater sound. Examples of his research include underwater acoustic remote sensing, the acoustics of underwater explosions, acoustic scattering and reflection from the sea surface and sea bed, vector acoustics, underwater ambient noise and methods to reduce underwater industrial noise.

He has conducted several ocean-going experiments involving underwater acoustics, including the Asian Seas International Acoustics Experiment (ASIAEX), sponsored by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, in the East China Sea involving the U.S., China and Korea and for which he was U.S. chief scientist.

Professor Dahl is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, has served as the chair of its technical committee on underwater acoustics (2002–2005), on its Executive Council (2008–2011), and has recently completed service as Vice President of the Acoustical Society of America.

Department Affiliation



B.S., University of Washington - Seattle, 1976

M.S. Ocean and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington - Seattle, 1982

Ph.D. Ocean Engineering, MIT, 1989


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Experimental study on performance improvement of underwater acoustic communication using a single vector sensor

Choi, K.H., J.W. Choi, S. Kim, P.H. Dahl, D.R. Dall'Osto, H.C. Song, "Experimental study on performance improvement of underwater acoustic communication using a single vector sensor," IEEE J. Ocean. Eng., EOR, doi:10.1109/JOE.2024.3374424, 2024.

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3 Jun 2024

Underwater acoustic communication is heavily influenced by intersymbol interference caused by the delay spread of multipaths. In this article, communication sequences transmitted from a drifting source were received by a fixed acoustic vector receiver system consisting of an accelerometer-based vector sensor and a pressure sensor, which can measure the three-directional components of vector quantity and pressure at a point. The underwater acoustic communication experiment was conducted in water approximately 30 m deep off the south coast of Geoje Island, South Korea, in May 2017 during the Korea Reverberation Experiment. Acceleration signals received by the vector sensor were converted to pressure-equivalent particle velocities, which were then used as input for a four-channel communication system together with acoustic pressure. These four channels have multipaths with different amplitudes but the same delay times, providing directional diversity that differs from the spatial diversity provided by hydrophone arrays. To improve the communication performance obtained from directional diversity, the Multichannel Combined Bidirectional Block-based Time Reversal Technique was used, which combines bidirectional equalization with time-reversal diversity and block-based time reversal that was robust against time-varying channels. Communication performance was compared with the outcomes produced by several other time reversal techniques. The results show that the Multichannel Combined Bidirectional Block-based Time Reversal Technique using a vector sensor achieved superior performance under the environmental conditions considered in this article.

On the equivalence of scalar-pressure and vector-based acoustic dosage measures as derived from time-limited signal waveforms

Dahl, P.H., J. Bonnel, and D.R. Dall'Osto, "On the equivalence of scalar-pressure and vector-based acoustic dosage measures as derived from time-limited signal waveforms," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 155, 3291-3301, doi:10.1121/10.0026019, 2024.

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15 May 2024

The dynamic (acoustic pressure) and kinematic (acoustic acceleration and velocity) properties of time-limited signals are studied in terms of acoustic dose metrics as might be used to assess the impact of underwater noise on marine life. The work is relevant for the study of anthropogenic transient acoustic signals, such as airguns, pile driving, and underwater explosive sources, as well as more generic transient signals from sonar systems. Dose metrics are first derived from numerical simulations of sound propagation from a seismic airgun source as specified in a Joint Industry Programme benchmark problem. Similar analyses are carried out based on at-sea acoustic measurements on the continental shelf, made with a vector sensor positioned 1.45 m off the seabed. These measurements are on transient time-limited signals from multiple underwater explosive sources at differing ranges, and from a towed, sonar source. The study demonstrates, both numerically and experimentally, that under many realistic scenarios, kinematic based acoustic dosage metrics within the water column can be evaluated using acoustic pressure measurements.

Coherent reflection recovery in scattering from the ocean surface using the frequency-difference autoproduct

Joslyn, N.J., P.H. Dahl, and D.R. Dowling, "Coherent reflection recovery in scattering from the ocean surface using the frequency-difference autoproduct," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 155, 1868-1880, doi:10.1121/10.0025234, 2024.

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1 Mar 2024

The coherence of rough sea-surface-scattered acoustic fields decreases with increasing frequency. The frequency-difference autoproduct, a quadratic product of acoustic fields at nearby frequencies, mimics a genuine field at the difference frequency. In rough-surface scattering, the autoproduct's lower effective frequency decreases the apparent surface roughness, restoring coherent reflection. Herein, the recovery of coherent reflection in sea surface scattering via the frequency-difference autoproduct is examined for data collected off the coast of New Jersey during the Shallow Water '06 (SW06) experiment. An acoustic source at depth 40 m and receiver at depth 24.3 m and range 200 m interrogated 160 independent realizations of the ocean surface. The root mean square surface height h was 0.167 m, and broadcast frequencies were 14–20 kHz, so that 2.5 ≤ kh cos θ ≥ 3.7 for acoustic wavenumber k and incidence angle θ⁠. Measured autoproducts, constructed from scattered constituent fields, show significant coherent reflection at sufficiently low difference frequencies. Theoretical results, using the Kirchhoff approximation and a non-analytic surface autocorrelation function, agree with experimental findings. The match is improved using a numerical strategy, exploiting the relationship between autoproduct-based coherence recovery, the ocean-surface autocorrelation function, and the ocean-surface height spectrum. Error bars computed from Monte Carlo scattering simulations support the validity of the measured coherence recovery.

More Publications


Pile with Sound Abatement

Patent Number: 9,617,702

Peter Dahl, John Dardis II, Per Reinhall

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11 Apr 2017

A noise-attenuating pile comprising a pile driving shoe, an outer tube that engages the pile driving shoe, and an inner member that extends through the outer tube and engages the pile driving shoe, wherein the pile is configured to be installed in sediment or other suitable material by driving the inner member with a pile driver, without directly impacting the outer tube, such that the radial outer tube is substantially insulated from the radial expansion waves generated by the pile driver impacting the inner member. In some piles, one of the inner member and the outer tube are removable after installation. In some piles, a seal is provided in a lower end of the channel defined between the inner member and the outer tube, which may be biodegradable, or may be an inflatable bladder, for example.

Pile to Minimize Noise Transmission and Method of Pile Driving

Patent Number: 8,622,658

Per G. Reinhall, Peter Dahl

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7 Jan 2014

A pile and method for driving a pile includes a pile having a structural outer tube, and an inner member disposed generally concentrically with the outer tube. The outer tube and inner member are fixed to a driving shoe. The pile is constructed and driven such that the pile driver impacts only the inner member. The impact loads are transmitted to the driving shoe to drive the pile into the sediment, such that the outer tube is thereby pulled into the sediment. In a particular embodiment the outer tube is formed of steel, and the inner member also comprises a steel tube. In an alternative embodiment one or both of the inner member and the outer tube are formed of an alternative material, for example, concrete. In an embodiment, the outer tube has a recess that captures a flange on the inner member. In an embodiment the outer tube is attached to the inner member with an elastic spring.

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