Channel Modeling for Underwater Acoustic Network Simulation

This manuscript was submitted to IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials on 18 Feb 2020.

Abstract:

Simulation forms an important part of the development and empirical evaluation of underwater acoustic network (UAN) protocols. The key feature of a credible network simulation model is a realistic representation of the underwater acoustic (UWA) channel characteristics. A common approach to obtaining a realistic UWA channel model is by using specialised software such as BELLHOP. However, BELLHOP and similar modeling software typically require knowledge of ocean acoustics and a substantial programming effort from UAN protocol designers to integrate it into their research. In this paper, we bridge the gap between low level channel modeling via software like BELLHOP and automated channel modeling, e.g. via the World Ocean Simulation System (WOSS), by providing a distilled UWA channel modeling tutorial from the network protocol design point of view. The tutorial is accompanied by our MATLAB simulation code that interfaces with BELLHOP to produce channel data for UAN simulations. As part of the tutorial, we describe two methods of incorporating such channel data into network simulations, including a case study for each of them: 1) directly importing the data as a look-up table, 2) using the data to create a statistical channel model. The primary aim of this tutorial is to provide a useful learning resource aimed at UAN protocol researchers without a background in underwater acoustics. However, the initial insights provided by the statistical channel modeling framework presented in this paper also show its great potential to serve as the channel modeling tool for future UAN research.