What We Do

The Center for Environmental and Information Systems houses three core research areas:

1. Acoustics and Signal Processing (ASP)

ASP conducts research and development in applied ocean acoustics to support antisubmarine warfare and other Navy programs, and, applies signal processing techniques to extract relevant information from underwater sound, speech, and radiation as well as other environmental signals.

2. Environmental Sensing and Modeling (ESM)

ESM investigates new techniques for making operational observations of the coastal ocean, estuaries, and other important regions. The group researches numerical modeling, data management and communication, environmental data visualization, and chemical sensing.

The Applied Optical Sensing Laboratory is researching the optical sampling characteristics of various spectroscopic techniques such as Raman, FT-IR, and UV-Vis, to improve real-time analyses and modeling for understanding and control of industrial processes like pharmaceutical manufacturing and biofuel processing.

Evanescent sensor — optical sensor development

3. Information and Control Systems (ICS)

ICS researches the use of information in complex decision-making environments like social networks, human robot interaction, computer interfaces, and cyber security, developing information and control systems for decision support systems, environmental visualization tools, autonomous underwater vehicles, and a testbed for studying botnets.

ICS is studying group decision-making in a joint Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and Office of Naval Research (ONR) program. They are modeling the interaction of group structural and process variables on group decision-making outcomes, variables such as specific networks, their level of disagreement, the order of their communications, and internal and external pressures. The predicted behaviors from the model will be validated experimentally.

To do so ICS is examining the theoretical integration of small group and attitude change theory, nonlinear dynamical systems, and wireless sensor network analysis methods. From these investigations ICS will design and conduct online group discussion experiments on small groups (3-5 people) through the manipulation of structural and process variables.

The EIS Center’s know-how is applied to the needs of the Department of Defense, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, along with other agencies and industry partners.

Examples of our research efforts include the investigation of underwater acoustic communications to improve sensor networking, the study of the causes of hypoxia in Hood Canal, and the use of cognitive engineering approaches to study the needs of Puget Sound boaters that resulted in an interactive web application called BIS.

Future directions for our group include chemical sensor engineering, ecosystem modeling of estuaries and coastal regions, and new areas of information science such as the study of social networks. One example of our research and development in chemical sensing is the use of revolutionary optical technologies to measure dissolved gases and to probe the geochemistry of remote and harsh environments.

David Jones, EIS Center Director

“We develop new methods for environmental observation and new tools for data analysis and signal processing, plus design, develop, and improve systems for enhanced performance, precision, and ease of use.”

EIS Center Expertise

  • Oceanography & meteorology
  • Applied ocean acoustics
  • Human systems interfaces
  • Signal, image & information processing
  • Naval operational studies
  • Software & environmental engineering
  • Statistical analysis
  • Embedded real-time control systems

EIS Center Applications

  • Autonomous undersea vehicle piloting and control
  • Ocean observing systems
  • Naval ocean & acoustic forecasting
  • ASW sonar & sonobuoy systems
  • Torpedo defense
  • Mine countermeasure systems

What's New?

Washington Ocean Acidification Center

In 2013 the Washington State legislature appropriated $1.8M to establish the Washington Ocean Acidification Center, co-directed by Jan Newton. The mission is to improve forecasts of where and when corrosive water may occur and to create mitigation strategies.   More >>

Local Educators on Shelf Science Cruise

On Earth Day the UW-operated R/V Thompson began an expedition for research and education off the Washington coast. Local teachers aboard learned about current ocean research topics and how to bring real time ocean data to their classrooms.  More >>

Ice Diver: A Thermal Ice Penetrator

The APL-UW-developed instrument melts its way through ice by electrical heating, like a rocket going down instead of up. The goal is to have it penetrate the kilometer-thick Greenland Ice Sheet to allow scientists to put sensors at the base of the sheet and measure meltwater pressures.  More >>

In the News

UW, NOAA deploy ocean robot to monitor harmful algal blooms off Washington coast

UW News and Information,

25 May 2016

John Mickett, an oceanographer at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory, led the deployment of the new instrument with Stephanie Moore, a scientist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, as part of a larger collaborative project.

Buoy deployed in Bellingham Bay to chart health of Puget Sound

KING 5 News,

11 Feb 2016

Oceanographers deployed a buoy in Bellingham Bay on Thursday that will chart the health of Puget Sound. It joins a half-dozen other buoys, but this is the only one in the north Puget Sound. It is equipped with several pieces of advanced technology that will monitor everything from salinity, temperature and weather changes.

Northwest winter weather: El Niño, coastal effects, no more 'blob'

UW News and Information,

11 Jan 2016

What some have called the "Godzilla El Niño" is now lumbering ashore, right on schedule. University of Washington researchers are tracking what the season will deliver to the Pacific Northwest region.

Recent Papers

Weisberg, S.B. et al., including J.A. Newton, "Water quality criteria for an acidifying ocean: Challenges and opportunities for improvement," Ocean Coast. Manage., 126, 31-41, doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2016.03.010, 2016.

1 Jun 2016, Link

Horsburgh, J.S., et al., including E. Mayorga, "Observations Data Model 2: A community information model for spatially discrete Earth observations," Environ. Model. Softw., 79, 55-74, doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2016.01.010, 2016.

1 May 2016, Link

Percival, D.B., "A wavelet perspective on the Allan variance," IEEE Trans. Ultrason., Ferroelect., Freq. Control, 63, 538-554, doi:10.1109/TUFFC.2015.2495012, 2016.

1 Apr 2016, Link

Educational Opportunities

Graduate and undergraduate students who wish to study at the Applied Physics Laboratory may work with EIS advisors who have joint appointments in UW academic departments.  More >>