Field observation of low-to-mid-frequency acoustic propagation characteristics of an estuarine salt wedge
Reeder, D. Benjamin
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The estuarine environment often hosts a salt wedge, the stratification of which is a function of the tide’s range and speed of advance, river discharge volumetric flow rate, and river mouth morphology. Competing effects of temperature and salinity on sound speed in this stratified environment control the degree of acoustic refraction occurring along an acoustic path. A field experiment was carried out in the Columbia River Estuary to test the hypothesis: the estuarine salt wedge is acoustically observable in terms of low-to-mid-frequency acoustic propagation. Linear frequencymodulated acoustic signals in the 500–2000 Hz band were transmitted during the advance and retreat of the salt wedge during May 27–29, 2013. Results demonstrate that the salt wedge front is the dominant physical mechanism controlling acoustic propagation in this environment: received signal energy is relatively stable before and after the passage of the salt wedge front when the acoustic path consists of a single medium (either entirely fresh water or entirely salt water), and suffers a 10–15 dB loss and increased variability during salt wedge front passage. Physical parameters and acoustic propagation modeling corroborate and inform the acoustic observations.
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4939108
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