Welcome to the latest Woods Hole Group Newsletter.  There is much good news to report for the Company, as our clients throughout the US and the world continue to rely on us for environmental services.  Both our domestic and international businesses grew substantially in 2007 and we are proud of this accomplishment.  We are also proud of the kind of work we do as well, work that addresses environmental problems.

This issue of the newsletter reflects our broader focus as we discuss large-scale global warming and smaller-scale environmental issues that affect our beaches.  Our mission at Woods Hole Group is to provide environmental services to many different types of clients in diverse settings.  The environment for us is not about emotion, it is about sound science and engineering, coupled with responsible environmental usage.  We’re not here to stop progress; we’re here to further sustainable projects in environmentally responsible ways.  Woods Hole Group is dedicated to the environment, and for us that means balancing the interests of economic development and natural resource conservation and restoration. 

Because the environment recognizes no borders, we assist at all levels – from international to regional to local.  That assistance is reflected in the first article in this issue; David Aubrey’s article “Environmental Challenges Around the Globe”.  It is the second part of our concise recap of major environmental threats worldwide and what Woods Hole Group is doing to help address those threats.  The second article is by Brian Caufield and addresses water quality issues that affect our beaches.  The final article, Deep Blue, discusses the estimation of water depth in deep water.  David Szabo and Dr. Leonid Ivanov’s article is a technical discussion of an issue that is of great importance to the design of seafloor structures and tendons for tension leg platforms. 

Please enjoy this issue and I look forward to speaking to you again.


Dennis Aubrey, President

Environmental Challenges Around the Globe:
What is Woods Hole Group Doing About Them?

Woods Hole Group is pleased to continue its two part series focused on the environmental challenges around the globe, and what Woods Hole Group is doing about them.  Although some may view Woods Hole Group as a local consulting company, our people have worked in more than 100 countries, and we have ongoing projects in dozens of countries each year. The scope of our studies leads to actions on global environmental issues. Our newsletter offers a brief description of what we are doing to improve the quality of life on our planet, for the major threats as we see them:

  • global warming
  • loss of biodiversity
  • fisheries collapse
  • pollution and waste management
  • coastal development
  • energy consumption
  • water supply and quality

Part one addressed the first three topics above in our previous newsletter.

Part Two
Pollution and waste management:  Global pollution is at the root of many of the above environmental issues, including climate change (discharge of CO2 and other greenhouse gases with radiative global_photo1forcing), loss of biodiversity (deterioration of habitats due to pollution by industry, cities, and from atmospheric deposition), loss of fisheries, and lack of water supplies.  Although waste products are a natural result of industrialization and human existence on earth, the quantity and quality of those waste products are within our control to a large extent.  Pollution can be described as discharge of waste products in an environmental insensitive manner.  Lack of regulation, lack of enforcement, and insufficient public involvement often lead to less-than-adequate pollution control measures.  The solution to this problem involves large-scale modifications of industrial processes, stricter measures to implement waste management strategies (at factory, local, regional, national, and international levels), improved technology, and a market system that rewards investment in stricter pollution control and waste management.

What is Woods Hole Group doing?  Woods Hole Group has long been involved in issues related to pollution and waste management.  Through local projects, national projects, and international projects (such as the Global Environment Facility), Woods Hole Group has contributed to studies of pollution, recommendations for pollution reduction, and implementation of pollution reduction measures.  For instance, our present projects include developing a waste management program for a Middle Eastern client, helping develop and implement improved processes for industrial pollution control, and design and construction of hazardous liquid waste management projects for various industrial areas.  Woods Hole Group strives to contribute to better understanding of the scope and breadth of pollution by developing monitoring and measurement systems for pollution, by performing assessments of pollution, and then continuing onto providing solutions to these problems.  One of Woods Hole Group’s foci is to turn waste into re-usable products, such as in the liquid waste management process, where water and various industrial materials will be recycled.

Coastal development:  In the United States, more than 50% of the population lives within 50 miles of the nation’s coast, an area comprising only 11% of the nation’s land area.  This coastal development creates numerous issues of a local and global nature.  Access to coastal waters are restricted in many cases (in Saudi Arabia, for instance, a recent newspaper article cited that only 4% of the nation’s coastline is in the public domain!).  Concentration of industry along the coast has led to increased pollution.  Massive movement to the coast has led to increased exposure to natural hazards, such as storms, tsunamis, and floods.  Conflicting uses often leads to less than ideal zoning of coastal areas; often environmental issues are neglected in favor of economic development.

What is Woods Hole Group doing?  Woods Hole Group is involved in coastal development in many ways.  We perform coastal zone management studies, and recommend coastal management strategies for local communities, nations, and for multi-national settings.  We are proponents of integrated coastal zone management, for a variety of clients ranging up to the multi-national scale.  We provide engineering studies and designs so humans can live more safely and more adaptively with the coast and the oceans.  Examples include regional engineering solutions and beach nourishment, relying on hard and soft methods of beach protection.  Our Environmental Impact Assessments help avoid and reduce the negative impacts of industrial, recreational, and residential coastal developments.  Our focus is on proper planning and on public-private partnerships to develop rational planning for coastal zones, taking into account economic requirements, the environment, and human/social dimensions.

global_photo2Energy use:  Energy use is expected to continue to grow in the foreseeable future, as developing countries (particularly China and India) increase their industrial capacity.  Developing countries currently are the biggest users of energy globally, with the U.S. being the largest contributor to one by-product of energy use:  emission of CO2 to the atmosphere leading to global warming.  This increased rate of energy usage will lead to numerous problems, including continued global warming (absent internationally - coordinated reductions in emissions associated with energy usage), increased pollution, and possible continued deterioration of our global oceans due to oil spills and uncontrolled discharges to the oceans and coastal areas.

What is Woods Hole Group doing?  We are working on the energy issue from a number of different perspectives.  From an energy production standpoint, Woods Hole Group has developed and deploys monitoring equipment on drilling and production platforms around the world to create safer conditions for drilling and production operations, by providing advanced warning of dangers to operational activities from ocean currents, waves, and winds.  Woods Hole Group also contributes to the safe use of energy by providing environmental impact studies and analyses for energy pipeline corridors, and new energy development (e.g., offshore LNG facilities), to identify critical ecosystems, methods for their protection, and where necessary, mitigation methods.  We have worked on renewable energy projects, to help develop design criteria to optimize the operations of renewable energy projects global_photo3such as wind farms and tidal energy capture.  We also have embarked on projects related to energy credits for environmental sensitive design, through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) whereby money invested in reductions in discharge of CO2 equivalents can be traded on the open market, through mechanisms established from the Kyoto protocol.  In energy-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia, such trading can provide significant encouragement to improve the environmental friendliness of energy projects. 

Water:  Potable water resources are diminishing world-wide as over-use has reduced our surface and sub-surface reservoirs of water, and pollution has tainted some of those remaining.  A third of the planet’s population lives in water-stressed environments now, and that figure is expected to rise to two-thirds by 2025.  Five million people die from water-borne diseases each year, much of these caused by human desecration of water resources.  As the population continues to grow, the demands on water will also increase.  In principle, there is enough water for us all, but the allocation of water is uneven and wasteful.  Agriculture consumes some 70% of water used, and agriculture will only expand as nations develop.

What is Woods Hole Group doing?  Woods Hole Group is working on the water issue from a number of approaches.  We team with municipalities and engineering partners to address alterative water supply solutions, such as desalination.  Woods Hole Group has helped plan and evaluate a number of reverse osmosis desalination facilities, by modeling the potential impacts of the concentrate discharge on the marine environment and making suggestions to minimize impacts.  In the middle East, we are working on projects addressing sourcing water from groundwater:  what is the volume available?  What is the sustainable use?  Woods Hole Group also is interested in well inventories:  which wells exist?  What are their production rate and capacity?  What is the quality of water?  This initiative involves evaluation of National Water Demand Projections for the next 50 years. And, Woods Hole Group is involved in various projects revolving around water re-use from domestic, industrial and other sources.  Water re-use is one key to sustainable water policies in the future.


David Aubrey, Ph.D.

David Aubrey, Ph.D., CEO, Chief Scientist
In 1986, Dr. Aubrey founded Aubrey Consulting, later called Woods Hole Group. Prior to founding the Woods Hole Group, Dr. Aubrey was for 22 years a Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).  Dr. Aubrey specializes in international environmental projects, including science, engineering, policy, legal, regulatory, and management.  Dr. Aubrey has performed many environmental impact analyses, health impact analyses, and audits to evaluate the impacts of proposed projects on both the environment and human health, for various sectors including intergovernmental bodies (UNEP, UNDP, World Bank, International Development Bank), national governments, local governments, commercial firms, and private individuals.


In the last issue of Breaking Waves, we advocated the importance of beaches to the national economy.  For instance, beach related tourism contributes approximately $257 billion to the national economy1.  In this issue, we examine the environmental issue that affects our beaches, namely water quality. 

According to a recent National Resources Defense Council report on beach water quality, there werewaves_photo1 over 25,000 closing and health advisory days at beaches within the US, with more than 14,000 due to unknown sources2.  The number of closing/advisory days is the highest in the 17 years that the NRDC has been tracking beach closures.  The number of closing/advisory days due to storm water was more than 10,000 in 2006, with 79% of these being pre-emptive closures.  Local health officials often cannot wait for the results of water quality testing and close beaches based on rainfall.

Woods Hole Group has been active in defining mixing processes in the nearshore zone, applying a variety of techniques to evaluate the influence of discharges in estuaries and along beaches.  These projects have covered a variety of topics including defining discharge mixing zones, identifying zones of influence, tracking water column debris such as decayed vegetation (detritus), and evaluating sources of contamination.  Lately, we’ve applied these tools to develop solutions to improve water quality and help keep our beaches open. 

One example to reduce the number of beach closures is an ongoing project with the Town of Middletown, Rhode Island.  Middletown is located on the south coast of Rhode Island with beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean.  The two local beaches are Easton’s Beach and Atlantic Beach Club, and there are three known discharges within the nearshore zone.  The first discharge is a stream mouth that carries storm flow.  The other two discharges are 36 inch and 16 inch storm sewer pipes located along the eastern section of the embayment forming the beach. 

waves_photo2The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) collects water samples between May and September and use enterococci bacteria as an indicator of the risk of illness.  The standard for enterococci is 104 colony forming units (cfus) per 100 mls of saltwater.  Between May and September 2006, Atlantic Beach Club was closed for 16 days due to water quality samples above the standard.  Easton’s Beach was closed for 20 days, including an 8 day stretch just after the popular Fourth of July holiday vacation.  High bacteria levels are not only a summer problem.  In the Fall/Winter of 2006/2007, a Rhode Island organization titled Clean Ocean Access continued the same routine of water quality sampling as RIDOH to determine beach water quality during the off season.  Although the number of visitors to the beach decreases with the temperature, the off season in New England is prime time to don the thick wetsuit and catch some waves, leaving a select group of individuals to remain in contact with beach water of unknown bacterial levels. 

Woods Hole Group is helping the Town of Middletown investigate and design measures to reduce beach closures due to the two storm sewer pipes.  One alternative being considered is to relocate these pipes to an offshore location where they will not cause beach closures.  Moving the pipes offshore also has the potential for water quality impacts, so it’s important to investigate design alternatives to minimize the size of the mixing zone.  Initially, a simple analytical dilution model was applied to simulate the proposed relocation of the storm sewer discharges to an offshore underwater location.  The results of the modeling indicated there is potential to reduce the number of beach waves_photo3closures; however, questions remained regarding offshore characteristics. 

Based on the encouraging preliminary findings , Woods Hole Group has been working to better characterize the discharge water, offshore environment, and mixing zone.  Although there has been extensive sampling of the bacterial levels in the water, little has been done to quantify the source flow.  The Town of Middletown has done extensive cameraing through the storm sewer discharge pipes to identify erroneous connections; such as waste or sanitary sewer connections.  All of these connections have been repaired such that the flow within the storm sewers is solely an artifact of rainfall or groundwater seepage.  Due to the nature of rainfall, flow within the pipes is episodic, and these episodes have the potential to carry a large quantity of bacterial contamination to the beach.  Such an example is October 20, 2006 when after 0.6 inches of rain, the enterococci level in the water sample from the 36 inch discharge pipe was above 24,192 cfus/100 ml.  In order to characterize the flow regime with the pipes, Woods Hole Group installed two sewer flow meters designed to operate in variable flow environments. 

Along with characterization of the source water physical characteristics, Woods Hole Group is improving the characterization of the ambient or receiving water body.  There is little available data to determine the tidal current within the offshore embayment.  Woods Hole Group placed a bottom-mounted, upward-looking Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) for two months in the offshore zone approximately where a combined discharge might be located.  The data collected by the ADCP are being used to refine the estimates of the dilution/mixing zone of the discharge, as well as to support necessary environmental impact assessment and permitting.

The goal of the combined data collection, modeling, and environmental investigations is to develop an effective and affordable resolution to a municipal water quality problem, reducing beach closures for residents/visitors and protecting the water quality for the ecosystem.


Brian Caufield

Brian Caufield, Coastal Engineer
Mr. Caufield is a Coastal Engineer specializing in the areas of hydrodynamic modeling, flushing studies, wave transformation, coastal structure design and sediment transport.  He received his M.S.E. in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from The University of Michigan, his M.S.C.E. in Civil Engineering and his B.S.C.E. in Civil Engineering both from Purdue University.  Mr. Caufield has professional and academic experience with the analysis of nearshore wave conditions and impacts of waves on coastal erosion and in applying finite difference and finite element hydrodynamic models to predict tidal flushing of harbors and lake circulation modeling.

1“The Economic Value of Beaches,” presented by Dr. James Houston, USACE, at Sustainable Beaches Summit, Sandestin, FL, March 30, 2004.
2 Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches 17th Edition, National Resources Defense Council, August 2007.


Basics of Estimating Water Depth In Deep Water
Highly accurate mean water depth measurements are needed in a number of maritime applications, for example, in connection with the design of seafloor structures and tendons for deepwater Tension Leg Platforms.  Errors in water depth estimates can lead to costly errors in construction.  Woods Hole Group tackles the task of depth measurement using a different methodology depending on the water depth and required accuracy of the result, aiming to achieve the most cost-effective accurate solution.

For floating production platforms, the accuracy of the measurement is expected to be within a foot or less in water depths of up to 10,000 ft (3,000 m). This requires a depth measurement accuracy of 0.01%. This requires specialized measurement techniques expertise, and has to be supported by realistic estimates of uncertainty.  The problem is not straightforward since there is no simple direct measurement technique (i.e., long tape measure), so indirect measurement techniques need to beblue_photo1 used.  A second complication is that water depth at a location is not fixed in time.  Water depth fluctuations occur at time scales of seconds (waves), hours (atmospheric pressure, tides), days to weeks (eddy or topographic wave passage), seasons (heating and cooling), years (global warming).

One accepted ‘indirect’ measurement techniques for determining water depth is by measuring the transit time of sound through the water column with an echo sounder.   However, this technique is not applicable when high accuracy measurements are required because an echo sounder in deep water is typically accurate to only 0.2% of full depth, which would translate into 7-foot uncertainty if the water depth is about 1000m.

A preferred solution can be achieved using a temperature-compensated pressure sensor such as a Paroscientific DigiQuartz sensor.  This type of pressure sensor provides accuracy of pressure measurement up to 0.01% of full scale range, and repeatability of 0.005% of full range.  If the average water density in known to the same accuracy, then the depth can be calculated. The fact that the sensor accuracy formally satisfies the requirements of the industry does not, however, guarantee that depth measurements using this sensor will have the same level of accuracy.  Other factors, such as varying water density and atmospheric pressure, and spatial changes in the acceleration due to gravity, add error and uncertainty as well.  Specialized experience is required to overcome and understand the various sources of error and uncertainty.

For instance, the average density of the water column is a function of the temperature and salinity profile through the water column.  Modern high-precision CTD (conductivity / temperature / depth) sensors must be used to measure the density profile to remain within the required water depth accuracy range.  Using such an instrument limits the depth uncertainty due to the varying water density to about an inch.  Our experience shows that using monthly mean temperature and salinity profiles adds about a foot to possible error.

Precise in-situ measurements of atmospheric pressure are less critical since the value of the atmospheric pressure can typically be estimated from a weather map or a nearby weather station with sufficient accuracy.  The uncertainty of this estimate translates into a depth measurement error of less than one inch.

blue_photo2In an ideal environment; that is, when the bottom is relatively flat (i.e., there is no need to be precise in terms of the horizontal position of the pressure reading), the most cost-effective solution for estimating the water depth is to sample through the water column using a CTD equipped with an echo sounder to take a precise measurement of the distance to the seabed (mudline) when the probe is near the bottom.  However, in the real environment, collecting the data at exactly the right place is of a paramount importance; therefore, the CTD probe is usually installed on an ROV that is used to probe the water column.  Using an ROV makes it possible to bring the pressure sensor exactly to the position where the depth measurement has to be taken.  The absolute accuracy of such instantaneous water depth measurement will be limited to about one foot in approximately 1000 meters of water.

In most applications, however, collecting an instantaneous water depth measurement is not sufficient since the water depth at any location will vary in time due to a variety of physical processes.  Of importance to engineering design are the mean water depth and the range of variability about the mean, not an instantaneous depth.  The difference between the mean water depth and an instantaneous water depth is a superposition of tidal, meso-scale, seasonal, and interannual oscillations of the sea surface.  Among these processes, the barotropic tide and meso-scale eddies, both barotropic and baroclinic, play a major role.

Use of tidal models for estimating sea level at any specific moment in time is not recommended since the models for the deep ocean are not accurate enough for estimating the phase of the tide at any specific location.  Also, models simulate only a subset of the tidal constituents, while more constituents may be required to represent the actual tide.  Instead, a long-term deployment of a pressure sensor at the bottom can provide the needed information on tidal variability at the site.  The deployment duration depends on the number of tidal constituents to be resolved.  While deployment from one to several months allows the elimination of tides from the estimate of a mean depth, there are other processes occurring on longer time scales that need to be considered as well.

The water depth anomaly associated with meso-scale variability of the ocean (eddies and basin-scale currents) can be assessed using satellite altimetry.  These data have been routinely collected since 1993. Thus, an instantaneous water depth measurement can be referenced to the 15-year mean sea level.  Energetics of major physical processes have to be examined to provide an estimate of the range of water depth variability around the mean.

In summary, a combination of specialized scientific experience, equipment, and practical in-field skills is required to collect accurate water depth measurements for construction purposes in the deep ocean.


Leonid Ivanov

Leonid Ivanov, Ph.D., Physical Oceanographer
Dr. Ivanov has more than 20 years experience worldwide in open ocean and coastal oceanography. Dr. Ivanov has conducted field studies and research in the eastern Tropical Atlantic focusing on the investigation of physical mechanisms driving seasonal and meso-scale ocean variability, as well as baroclinic and barotropic tides, inertia-gravity waves and coastal fronts off West Africa. 

David Szabo David Szabo, Houston Regional Manager/Senior Oceanographer
Mr. Szabo earned his M.S. in oceanography from Florida State University and his B.S. in meteorology and oceanography from New York University.  Between earning his degrees he completed a three year commission as an officer (LTJG) in the US Coast Guard and served as a Military Oceanographer.  Through his work experience Mr. Szabo has developed a broad practical knowledge of the application of metocean research in engineering applications.  His experiences range from design and management of major oceanographic measurement programs to validation of numerical wave and current models for engineering use.

This year business continues the hectic pace from last year of both bidding new work and conducting projects.  We have recently submitted proposals requiring a large range of capabilities from real time systems on production platforms in deep and shallow water, and on exploratory rigs at sites ranging from the Gulf of Mexico, Trinidad and West Africa, to a long-term current profiling mooring at a 2000m site in the Gulf of Mexico.  We have also submitted proposals for coastal measurement programs that include measurements from bottom platforms, subsurface moorings and surface moorings.

Our platform-based measurement system in Trinidad, which provides meteorological, wave and current profile data in real time, has continued to collect data nearly flawlessly over its first full year of operation.  Technical support was also provided in Mexico for design, fabrication and installation of a similar system.

A project for EJIP (Eddy Joint Industry Project) in the Gulf of Mexico was finalized with the results presented by Dr. Magnell at ‘ADCPs in Action’ last year.  Some of these results also are being presented at the IEEE Current Meter Technology Conference this month.  By the end of last year, we began a data analysis project for EJIP that will take up to a year to complete.   

A successful year-long 3-mooring deepwater current profiling project was recently completed in Colombia.  The work was completed safely and on-schedule, with extremely high data return and data quality.  Working at the same time with different in-house field crews, we recently successfully initiated a year-long, deepwater, near-bottom current measurement program with deployment of bottom frames equipped with profilers and acoustic modems in ~2,500m waters in the Gulf of Mexico at six (6) different sites.

And last, but far from least, we were selected to provide oceanographic support personnel to an oceanographic vessel offshore Brazil in partnership with C&C Technologies for the next two years.


Oi08Dr. Bruce Magnell and Robert Hamilton, Jr. will be at attending the Oceanology International 2008 conference on March 11-13 in London. Stop by and visit Woods Hole Group at booth #412.

Dr. Bruce Magnell will be presenting a paper at the IEEE Current Meter Technology conference taking place in Charleston, S.C. on March 17-19, 2008. He will be presenting the results from a Joint Industry Project (JIP) for the offshore oil and gas industry related to performance of acoustic Doppler current profilers in low scattering environments.

Brian Caufield was invited to give a presentation on beach erosion to the US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 11-08 on January 21, 2008 at the Coast Guard Canal Station in Sandwich, MA.

Dr. Bruce Magnell presented his paper, Performance of the 75kHz Long Ranger ADCP in a Low Scattering Environment at the ADCPs in Action conference, November 5-7, 2007 in San Diego, CA

erfDr. Lee Weishar attended ERF 2007: Estuarine Research Federation - Science and Management: Observations / Syntheses / Solutions on November 4-8, 2007 in Providence, RI. Dr. Weishar shared his expertise in coastal and estuarine management through two presentations: Natural Attenuation of Nitrogen in Wetlands and Waterbodies and We have had an effect! For more information, visit the ERF 2007 website.

Kirk Bosma, Brian Caufield and Matthew Shultz presented at the ASBPA/GLO 2007 Fall Coastal Conference on Caring for the Coast: Protecting, Enhancing, Preserving held October 22-24, 2007 in Galveston, TX. They presented papers entitled, Application of A Process-Based Sediment transport Model to assess Beach restoration and Nourishment alternatives; Beach Closures due to Episodic Storm Water Events: A Case Study in Middletown, Rhode Island; and 3D Hydrodynamic and Water Quality modeling to assess the impacts of a reverse osmosis water treatment discharge, respectively.



WOODS HOLE GROUP'S CORPORATE ORGANIZATION KEEPS ON GROWING and we would like to announce developments within our corporate organization:

Clinton Hare, Ph.D. joins our Delaware team as Mid-Atlantic Operations Manager and Oceanographer. Clinton recieved his Ph.D. in Oceanography, M.S. in Marine Studies, and B.A. in Biological Sciences all from the University of Delaware. Clinton brings a strong background in biological and chemical oceanographic processes and broad knowledge of oceanographic field sampling and methodology. 

Thomas J. Allen has joined the Woods Hole Group team as a Field Technician.  Thomas holds an Associate degrees in Avionics Applied Science; Electronics Engineering; Computer Engineering; and Computer Network Engineering.  He spent 24 years in the United States Air Force working in various areas of avionics maintenance. 

Woods Hole Group welcomes Nathan Dill to the role of Coastal Engineer. Nate received a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Louisiana State University and Bachelor of Arts in Physics from Bowdoin College. Professionally Nate has experience developing and applying numerical models in both PC and high performance computing environments for coastal restoration projects and also hurricane storm surge related problems.

Mitchell Buck joins Woods Hole Group as Coastal Engineer with specialization in hydrodynamic modeling, sediment transport and bathymetric response due to changes with nearshore wave environment and structures.  He received his M.C.E. in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Ocean Engineering from The University of Delaware and his B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.



Leighton DalmasseCongratulations go out to Leighton Dalmasse, Senior GIS Analyst at Woods Hole Group.  Leighton has been certified as a Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP), which means he has met the minimum standards for ethical conduct and professional practice as established by the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI).  There are less than 2,000 GISPs worldwide.