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ONR Graduate Traineeship Award in Ocean Acoustics for Joshua D. Wilson

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Annual rept.

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The goal of this research is to test the hypothesis that inexpensive undersea acoustic measurements can be used to determine the wind speed and quantify the destructive power of a hurricane with greater accuracy than standard satellite remote sensing techniques. It is proposed to do this by conducting field experiments in cooperation with the Mexican Navy just off the Mexican Isla Socorro which has a well-equipped meteorological station and the highest frequency of tropical cyclone occurrences in the world 8. While current satellite technology has made it possible to effectively detect and track hurricanes, expensive hurricane-hunting aircraft are required to accurately classify their destructive power. Because of their expense, the United States only routinely deploys these aircraft over the North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico 8,7 leaving vast areas with interest to national security, including the entire Pacific Ocean, uncovered. Current experimental and theoretical evidence suggests that inexpensive underwater acoustic sensors may be used to accurately quantify the destructive power of a hurricane. In 1999 an autonomous underwater acoustic sensor deployed by NOAA in the North Atlantic recorded the underwater noise as hurricane Gert passed overhead. By correlating this noise with meteorological data from reconnaissance aircraft and satellites we show that low frequency underwater noise intensity is approximately proportional to the cube of the local wind speed. Our analysis shows that it should be possible to estimate hurricane wind speed to an accuracy similar to that of specialized hurricane hunting aircraft 7 using underwater acoustic sensors, and from this accurately quantify the destructive power of the hurricane.

Subject Categories:

  • Meteorology
  • Acoustic Detection and Detectors
  • Acoustics

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