Title

Examples and Applications In Long-Range Ocean Acoustics

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-1-2007

Department

Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

Acoustic energy propagates effectively to long ranges in the ocean interior because of the physical properties of the marine environment. Sound propagation in the ocean is relevant to a variety of studies in communication, climatology and marine biology. Examples drawn from ocean acoustics, therefore, are compelling to students with a variety of interests. The dependence of sound speed on depth results in a waveguide that permits the detection of acoustic energy at ranges, in some experiments, of thousands of kilometres. This effect serves as an illustration of Snell's law with a continuously variable index of refraction. Acoustic tomography also offers a means for imaging the ocean's thermal structure, because of the dependence of sound speed on temperature. The ability to perform acoustic thermometry for large transects of the ocean provides an effective means of studying climate change. This application in an area of substantial popular attention allows for an effective introduction to concepts in ray propagation. Aspects of computational ocean acoustics can be productive classroom examples in courses ranging from introductory physics to upper-division mathematical methods courses.

Publication Title

European Journal of Physics

Volume

28

Issue

6

First Page

1063

Last Page

1072