A characterization of underwater sound produced by heavy precipitation
Nystuen, Jeffrey A.
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An experiment by the Naval Postgraduate School and the National Data Buoy Center was performed in the Gulf of Mexico to investigate the underwater sound generated by heavy precipitation under a variety of conditons. During the first stage of the experiment, nine data sets were obtained with rainfall rates up to 300 mm/hr. The characteristic fifteen kilohertz peak in the underwater sound spectrum generated by small raindrops in light rain is absent during heavy rain. These data sets show a good correlation between rainfall rate and underwater sound levels, suggesting that acoustical measurement of rainfall rate at sea is possible. The correlation is best at lower frequencies (2-10 kHz). At higher frequencies (12-22 kI-Iz) low spectral levels are observed in conditions of high wind (> 10 ns), presumably due to sound absorption by ambient bubble clouds from breaking waves. At very high rainfall rates (>200 mm/hr), low levels at higher frequencies are also observed suggesting that the rain itself is capable of producing large populations of bubbles which absorb the sound radiated from the surface.
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