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Peter Dahl

Senior Principal Engineer

Professor, Mechanical Engineering





Research Interests

Underwater Acoustics, Acoustic Remote Sensing


Dr. Dahl is a Senior Principal Engineer in the Acoustics Department and a Professor in the University of Washington's Department of Mechanical Engineering. Professor Dahl's research is in areas of acoustics with primary focus on underwater sound. Examples of his research include underwater acoustic remote sensing, the acoustics of underwater explosions, acoustic scattering and reflection from the sea surface and sea bed, vector acoustics, underwater ambient noise and methods to reduce underwater industrial noise.

He has conducted several ocean-going experiments involving underwater acoustics, including the Asian Seas International Acoustics Experiment (ASIAEX), sponsored by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, in the East China Sea involving the U.S., China and Korea and for which he was U.S. chief scientist.

Professor Dahl is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, has served as the chair of its technical committee on underwater acoustics (2002–2005), on its Executive Council (2008–2011), and has recently completed service as Vice President of the Acoustical Society of America.

Department Affiliation



B.S., University of Washington - Seattle, 1976

M.S. Ocean and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington - Seattle, 1982

Ph.D. Ocean Engineering, MIT, 1989


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Short-range signatures of explosive sounds in shallow water used for seabed characterization

Wilson, P.S., D.P. Knowles, P.H. Dahl, A.R. McNeese, and M.C. Zeh, "Short-range signatures of explosive sounds in shallow water used for seabed characterization," IEEE J. Ocean. Eng., 45, 14-25, doi:10.1109/JOE.2019.2934372, 2020.

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1 Jan 2020

Small explosions were used as sound sources in the Seabed Characterization Experiment conducted in spring 2017 in the New England Mud Patch, a shallow-water region with a depth of approximately 75 m. The sources were U.S. Navy Signal Underwater Sound (SUS) Mk 64 charges, which contained 31.18 g of the explosive 2,4,6-Trinitrophenylmethylnitramine, commonly referred to as Tetryl. Source recordings were obtained by two hydrophones deployed from the same ship that deployed the SUS. The recordings were analyzed for bubble period, energy spectral density, and the variability of these parameters, and compared to previous results from the literature, including the prediction of a historic spectral model, and a new semiempirical time-domain model assembled using measured data from the literature. The new model describes the source level measurements in the 25–275-Hz band and in the 400-Hz octave band to within 0.5 dB, and agrees with similar measurements from the literature to within 0.6 dB. The standard deviation of the band-limited source levels was found to be about 1 dB, some of which is ascribed to uncertainty and variation in the source-to-receiver distance. The observed source level variation is similar to previously reported values.

Vector acoustic analysis of time-separated modal arrivals from explosive sound sources during the 2017 Seabed Characterization Experiment

Dahl, P.H., and D.R. Dall'Osto, "Vector acoustic analysis of time-separated modal arrivals from explosive sound sources during the 2017 Seabed Characterization Experiment," IEEE J. Ocean. Eng., 45, 131-143, doi:10.1109/JOE.2019.2902500, 2020.

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1 Jan 2020

The Intensity Vector Autonomous Recorder (IVAR) is a system that records four coherent channels of acoustic data continuously: one channel for acoustic pressure and three channels associated with a triaxial accelerometer from which acoustic particle velocity is obtained. IVAR recorded the vector acoustic field in broadband signals originating from Signal, Underwater Sound (SUS) (Mk-64) charges deployed at 5–13-km range from the fixed IVAR site (mean depth 74.4 m) as part of the 2017 Seabed Characterization Experiment (SBCEX) designed to study the acoustics of fine-grained muddy sediments. Sufficient geometric dispersion at these ranges permitted unambiguous identification of up to four modes as a function of frequency for frequencies less than 80 Hz. From time–frequency analysis of the dispersed arrivals, a single mode (n) and single-frequency (fi) properties are identified at peaks in the narrowband scalar field, with time dependence corresponding to mode group speed. At these time–frequency addresses, four quantities derived from the vector acoustic measurements are formed by coherent combination of pressure and velocity channels: first, modal phase speed; second, circularity, a measure of the normalized curl of active intensity; third, depth-dependent mode speed of energy; and fourth, vertical component of reactive intensity normalized by scalar intensity. A means to compute these quantities theoretically is provided, and a comparison of model results based on a notional geoacoustic representation for the SBCEX experimental area consisting of a single low-speed mud layer over a half-space area versus a Pekeris representation based on the same half-space shows a striking difference, with the field observations also clearly at variance with the Pekeris representation. A fundamental property of mode 2, observed at the IVAR location, is a change in sign for circularity and vertical reactive intensity near 37 Hz that is posited as a constraint observation for mode 2 that must be exhibited by any geoacoustic model that includes a low-speed mudlike layer applied to this location.

Observations of water column and bathymetric effects on the incident acoustic field associated with shallow-water reverberation experiments

Dall'Osto, D.R., and P.H. Dahl, "Observations of water column and bathymetric effects on the incident acoustic field associated with shallow-water reverberation experiments," IEEE J. Ocean. Eng., 42, 1146-1161, doi:10.1109/JOE.2017.2717661, 2017.

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1 Oct 2017

As a part of the 2013 Targets and Reverberation Experiment (TREX13), measurements of the acoustic field generated by a source used in midfrequency (1.8–3.6 kHz) reverberation experiments are studied at 5 and 6 km range. The TREX13 reverberation sources were placed off the coast of Panama City, FL, USA, in waters ~20 m deep, and data discussed here are from a 2-h period in the late afternoon on April 28, 2013. The observed coda of the source signal is partitioned into an initial primary arrival, and a distinct second arrival delayed by roughly 2 s. Characteristics of the two arrivals are studied in terms of the effective number of modes, interference features, and the direction of acoustic intensity, which was directly measured by a vector sensor located at 5 km range. A shift in frequency within the primary arrival is observed over the 2-h measurement period. Frequency shifts are related to a change in range of dislocations, defined as points of complete destructive interference in the acoustic field, that modulate with tidal variation in the sound-speed profile. Precise frequencies are identified with the vector property called circularity, a nondimensional measure of acoustic intensity curl, that is maximal within the vortex-like intensity field within a dislocation. Using the waveguide invariant β, the frequency shift is used to estimate the tidal change in the thermocline depth. These interference features are absent in the second arrival, which is postulated to be an acoustic path horizontally refracted by the gently sloping bathymetry (~0.4°) forming the coastal environment. A description of the refraction using modal rays is developed, and the transition of the mode from being trapped to leaky is handled as a transition to a virtual mode near the cutoff depth. Models of the primary and refracted arrivals are presented to support the conclusions.

More Publications


Automatic Implementation of NOAA Marine Mammal Guidelines

Record of Invention Number: 48478

Peter Dahl, David Dall'Osto


13 Nov 2018

Airborne Acoustic Particle Motion Sound Meter

Record of Invention Number: 48135

David Dall'Osto, Peter Dahl


1 Aug 2017

Pile with Sound Abatement

Patent Number: 9,617,702

Peter Dahl, John Dardis II, Per Reinhall

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11 Apr 2017

A noise-attenuating pile comprising a pile driving shoe, an outer tube that engages the pile driving shoe, and an inner member that extends through the outer tube and engages the pile driving shoe, wherein the pile is configured to be installed in sediment or other suitable material by driving the inner member with a pile driver, without directly impacting the outer tube, such that the radial outer tube is substantially insulated from the radial expansion waves generated by the pile driver impacting the inner member. In some piles, one of the inner member and the outer tube are removable after installation. In some piles, a seal is provided in a lower end of the channel defined between the inner member and the outer tube, which may be biodegradable, or may be an inflatable bladder, for example.

More Inventions

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center