Detection of Underwater Acoustic Signals

Theory and techniques

5 February 2020
Versione stampabile

Venue: Polo Ferrari 1, via Sommarive 5 (Povo) – Garda Room 
Time: The seminar is offered as a half-day workshop with the following schedule:

  • 09.00 - 10.00 Basics of acoustic signal propagation models: propagation, attenuation, noise levels
  • 10.15 - 11.00 Common distribution models for acoustic signals: Gaussian, alpha, k-distribution
  • 11.00 - 11.20 Break
  • 11.20 - 12.15 Approaches and methodologies for acoustic signal detection: energy detection, cyclo-stationary, clustering
  • 12.15 - 13.00 Results from simulations and sea experiments


  • Dr. Roee Diamant (Department of Marine Technologies, University of Haifa, Israel)


The detection of underwater signal is a key enabling technique for any active and passive underwater acoustic sensor applications. Technologies such as SONAR imaging, acoustic communication, depth detectors, and signal identification, all use detection capabilities as a backbone. Underwater acoustic detection is different from the established radio frequency techniques. Due to the fast-changing sea environment, approaches based on noise estimation face mismatches between the assume noise model and its actual distribution. Further, the significant multipath that arrive closely in time produce negative and positive superposition, which makes it hard to identify the first arrival. And the time-varying-frequency-selective characteristics of the acoustic channel makes it challenging to lock onto the received signal.

In this tutorial, we will examine the theoretical foundation of underwater acoustic signal detection and offer some practical techniques. We will introduce the existing noise models and discuss ways to estimate their parameters. Based on these, several theoretical bounds for detection performance will be presented. Traditional and state-of-the-art detection schemes will be studied and analyzed by their suitability to the underwater domain. We will then focus on tailor-made solutions for both active and passive underwater signal detection and show some test cases on practical applications. In the second part of the tutorial, the we will discuss the detection of signals over both simulations and using real signals recorded at sea. Finally, the current research challenges will be reviewed.

About the Speaker

Roee Diamant received his PhD from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of British Columbia, in 2013, and his B.Sc. and the M.Sc. degrees from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, in 2002 and 2007, respectively. From 2001 to 2009, he worked in Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Israel, as a project manager and systems engineer, where he developed a commercial underwater modem with network capabilities. In 2015 and 2016, he was a visiting Prof. at the University of Padova, Italy. In 2009, he received the Israel Excellent Worker First Place Award from the Israeli Presidential Institute. In 2010, he received the NSERC Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Dr. Diamant has received three Best Paper awards and serves as an associate editor for the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering. Currently, he is the coordinator of the EU H2020 project SYMBIOSIS (BG-14 track) and leads the underwater Acoustic and Navigation Laboratory (ANL) as an assistant Professor at the Dept. of Marine Technologies, University of Haifa. His research interests include underwater acoustic communication, underwater navigation, object identification, and classification.

Keywords: Underwater acoustic propagation, acoustics, signal detection, signal processing

Contact: paolo.casari [at] (Paolo Casari)

Additional Notes: The seminar is offered as a half-day workshop in the context of a University of Trento – University of Haifa ERASMUS faculty exchange initiative.