Upward-looking sonars moored on the sea floor have contributed to our qualitative and quantitative understandings of ocean ice covers by enabling quasi-continuous measurements of ice draft along curvilinear tracks to accuracies as great as 0.05 m. The capabilities of ASL’s own IPS4 instrument to acquire and store such data has been demonstrated in well over 100 deployments in polar and sub-polar ice-infested regions. Data obtained from these deployments has providing ice property and characterization information for platform and operations design, planning, navigation support and for scientific ice and climate studies. Results obtained with recent use of the IPS4 and a sister instrument specialized to shallow water applications have motivated both the development of new deployment methodologies and suggested applications additional to simple ice draft measurements. Particular potential uses such as detecting unconsolidated ice content in lower portions of ice keels as well as the prevalence of loose and/or frazil ice under ice covers and in shallow water areas are discussed. Perceived future needs in both conventional draft profiling and in these and other new applications are used to guide developing requirements for a new generation of IPS instrumentation offering new performance capabilities and additional user-specific configurability. ASL’s vision of this instrumentation and progress toward prototype construction is described.

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