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Ambient Noise and Surface Wave Dissipation in the Ocean

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Doctoral thesis

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There is a growing consensus that the sound generated by breaking waves is responsible for much of the ambient noise level in the ocean. While numerous field measurements have shown a strong correlation between the ambient noise spectrum level N in the range 100 Hz to 25 kHz and wind speed in the ocean, very little has been done to establish a comparable correlation between the ambient noise spectrum level and surface wave field parameters. The difficulty in establishing this relationship is remarkable given that the frequency and intensity of wave breaking are dependent on the characteristics of the wave field. In Fall 1991, an experiment was conducted from the research platform Flip 130 kilometers off the coast of Oregon, where the ambient noise between 2.5 and 25 kHz, the wind speed, and the sea surface elevation using wire wave gauges were measured. The correlation between N and the root mean square wave amplitude a was found to be poor but could be improved if the swell was filtered out from the wave elevation time series. The influence of swell on the value of a was disproportionate to the level of ambient noise since its characteristics were not directly due to the local wind-wave conditions. Observations of the dependence of the high frequency wind waves and the directional wave spectrum under turning winds suggested that the high frequency wave components responded more quickly to changes in the wind speed and direction than the energy-containing frequencies.

Subject Categories:

  • Physical and Dynamic Oceanography
  • Acoustics
  • Radiofrequency Wave Propagation

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