Energy-efficient routing schemes for underwater acoustic networks

Michele Zorzi, Paolo Casari, Nicola Baldo, Albert F. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interest in underwater acoustic networks has grown rapidly with the desire to monitor the large portion of the world covered by oceans. Fundamental differences between underwater acoustic propagation and terrestrial radio propagation may call for new criteria for the design of networking protocols. In this paper, we focus on some of these fundamental differences, including attenuation and noise, propagation delays, and the dependence of usable bandwidth and transmit power on distance (which has not been extensively considered before in protocol design studies). Furthermore, the relationship between the energy consumptions of acoustic modems in various modes (i.e., transmit, receive, and idle) is different than that of their terrestrial radio counterparts, which also impacts the design of energy-efficient protocols. The main contribution of this work is an in-depth analysis of the impacts of these unique relationships. We present insights that are useful in guiding both protocol design and network deployment. We design a class of energy-efficient routing protocols for underwater sensor networks based on the insights gained in our analysis. These protocols are tested in a number of relevant network scenarios, and shown to significantly outperform other commonly used routing strategies and to provide near optimal total path energy consumption. Finally, we implement in ns2 a detailed model of the underwater acoustic channel, and study the performance of routing choices when used with a simple MAC protocol and a realistic PHY model, with special regard to such issues as interference and medium access.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4686813
Pages (from-to)1754-1766
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Characteristic distance
  • Energy-efficient protocol design
  • Performance analysis
  • Routing schemes
  • Underwater acoustic networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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