Transmission of Sound Waves in Ocean Water

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 14 October 2016

Transmission of Sound Waves in Ocean Water

Ocean acoustics is the study of the behavior of sound in the sea water. When underwater species and objects move and vibrate, they create sound-pressure waves which compress and decompress water molecules. These sound waves travel through the sea and radiates in all directions away from their source and thus forming ripples on the water surface. The three basic components of sound waves which explain the behavior of sounds are wavelength, frequency and amplitude. Frequency is the number of pressure waves that pass by a reference point per unit time (NOAA Ocean Explorer). Higher frequency means a higher pitched sound and vice versa.

Wavelength is the distances between the two peaks of sound waves. It is a rule that longer wavelength means lower frequency. Lastly, amplitude is the height of the sound-pressure wave or it is the loudness of a sound (measured in decibels). If there are only small variations in amplitude (short pressure waves), the sound is said to be weak or quiet, and vice versa. Temperature, pressure and the degree of salinity also affect the speed of sound. The spread of sound waves in sea water can be directly affected by suspensions of particle matter that can scatter, absorb and reflect waves.

This means that the more obstructions there are beneath the water, the more random sound waves can be. It has been proven that wavelength and frequency are inversely proportional (i. e. the longer the wavelength, the lower the frequency). When long wavelength sounds encountered few particles as they pass through the medium, they are not as subject to absorption, reflection or scattering. Therefore, low frequency sounds are able to travel farther without any significant loss of signal strength. The speed of sound in the deeper regions is influenced more by high pressure than any other factors.

On the other hand, temperature is the factor that governs the speed of sound in shallower surfaces. In short, the greater the temperature of water the faster sound can travel and the greater the pressure, the slower the sound can travel. Works Cited Nieukirk, Sharon. “Understanding Ocean Acoustics. ” 12 July 2005. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ocean Explorer. 8 March 2009 <http://oceanexplorer. noaa. gov/>. Lerner, Lee. “Sound Transmission in the Ocean. ” C. 2007. Water Encyclopedia. 8 March 2009 <http://www. waterencyclopedia. com/>.


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 14 October 2016

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