Scientia Marina, Vol 66, No 4 (2002)

Estimation of heading gyrocompass error using a GPS 3DF system: Impact on ADCP measurements

Simón Ruiz
Grupo de Oceanografía Interdisciplinar, IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Spain

Jordi Font
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CMIMA, CSIC, Spain

Gwyn Griffiths
Ocean Technology Division, Southampton Oceanography Center, United Kingdom

Arturo Castellón
Unidad de Tecnología Marina, CMIMA, CSIC, Spain


Traditionally the horizontal orientation in a ship (heading) has been obtained from a gyrocompass. This instrument is still used on research vessels but has an estimated error of about 2-3 degrees, inducing a systematic error in the cross-track velocity measured by an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP). The three-dimensional positioning system (GPS 3DF) provides an independent heading measurement with accuracy better than 0.1 degree. The Spanish research vessel BIO Hespérides has been operating with this new system since 1996. For the first time on this vessel, the data from this new instrument are used to estimate gyrocompass error. The methodology we use follows the scheme developed by Griffiths (1994), which compares data from the gyrocompass and the GPS system in order to obtain an interpolated error function. In the present work we apply this methodology on mesoscale surveys performed during the observational phase of the OMEGA project, in the Alboran Sea. The heading-dependent gyrocompass error dominated. Errors in gyrocompass heading of 1.4-3.4 degrees have been found, which give a maximum error in measured cross-track ADCP velocity of 24 cm s-1.


ADCP; heading; horizontal currents; Alboran Sea

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Copyright (c) 2002 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

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