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Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Scientific use of submarine telecommunications cables


  • IRIS Steering Committee for Scientific Use of Submarine Cables


In the coming decades, the Earth and ocean science communities will address global problems using new, large-scale, long-term monitoring systems distributed around the planet. Such measurements will be needed to better understand geophysical processes that vary on time scales of months to decades; they will also provide “ground truth” for observations derived from satellites. However, achieving broad spatial coverage within the oceans using conventional instrumentation deployed from ships will be very costly, and real-time data telemetry from seafloor-based instrumentation poses many technical challenges. A complementary approach might utilize portions of the worldwide system of transoceanic analog telecommunications cables; these are due to retire from commercial service over the next decade as they are replaced by fiber optic technology. Walker [1991], for example, discusses submarine cable usage in the context of global change research.

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