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In this paper, we propose a novel method for detection, synchronization and Doppler scale estimation for underwater acoustic communication using orthogonal frequency division multiplex (OFDM) waveforms. This new method involves transmitting two identical OFDM symbols together with a cyclic prefix, while the receiver uses a bank of parallel self-correlators. Each correlator is matched to a different Doppler scaling factor with respect to the waveform dilation or compression. We characterize the receiver operating characteristic in terms of probability of false alarm and probability of detection. We also analyze the impact of Doppler scale estimation accuracy on the data transmission performance. These analytical results provide guidelines for the selection of the detection threshold and Doppler scale resolution. In addition to computer-based simulations, we have tested the proposed method with real data from an experiment at Buzzards Bay, MA, Dec. 15, 2006. Using only one preamble, the proposed method achieves similar performance on the Doppler scale estimation and the bit error rate as an existing method that uses two linearly-frequencymodulated (LFM) waveforms, one as a preamble and the other as a postamble, around each data burst transmission. Compared with the LFM based method, the proposed method works with a constant detection threshold independent of the noise level and is suited to handle the presence of dense multipath channels. More importantly, the proposed approach does not need to buffer the whole data packet before data demodulation, which facilitates future development of online realtime receivers for multicarrier underwater acoustic communications.