Installation of Sea State Cameras on the Aurora Australis

On October 9, 2018, we have installed a stereo camera system on the Aurora Australis, the Australian icebreaker, within the AAS project 4431 (CAMPCANN), led by Dr Robyn Shofield (School of Science of The University of Melbourne). The camera will operate from October 2018 to March 2019 and will monitor the ocean surface, including the marginal ice zone, during the supply voyages to Antarctica.

The equipment consists of two synchronised industrial cameras equipped with low distortion 5mm lens, which will record overlapping videos of the ocean surface and sea ice floating on it. Cameras are operated via a laptop computer using an automated acquisition system. An inertial measurement unit (IMU) is installed with the cameras to record ship motion. Using photogrammetry principles, the exact position of the ocean surface can be recovered and the three-dimensional wave motion recon- structed (Benetazzo A., 2006 Measurements of short water waves using stereo matched image sequences. Coastal Engineering 53 (12), 1013–1032); ship motion is removed with the aid of the IMU data. The Waves Acquisition Stereo System (WASS) toolbox developed by colleagues at the University of Venice and CNR is used for post processing.


Camera were installed on the port side of the vessel and will scan the ocean surface at an angle of 35 degrees with the ship’s heading. About 30m of cables runs along the hand rail to connect the cameras to a laptop computer in the metlab.

It is expected that more than 100tb of images will be recorded during the season (see below an example taken during another expedition), which will provide valuable statistical information on waves and sea ice properties, including probability of extreme waves, ice floe size distribution and ice thickness.