Ambient noise characteristics during the Sheba experiment
Shaw, Ronald R.
Bourke, Robert H.
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The ambient noise data recorded by two free-drifting buoys during the 1997-98 SHEBA experiment presented a unique opportunity to gauge the noise field of the Arctic Ocean in a unique and changing environment. The two buoys drifted in unison for 12 months, providing an hourly ambient noise data set between 50 and 1000 Hz. The drift pattern was divided into five legs in response to the season or major changes in the direction of ice flow. The two buoys exhibited similar median spectra for all frequencies. When examined on a seasonal basis, summer low frequency (< 200 Hz) noise levels were much closer to winter noise levels than past studies. This was mainly due to the low number of storms during the winter of 1997-98, which resulted in lower winter median noise levels When compared with previous ambient noise studies in the Beaufort Sea, the SHEBA noise data were consistent with the concept that noise levels decrease (especially in summer) during the years when cyclonic atmospheric circulation dominates the west Arctic. Cross correlation analysis indicated a strong association of wind speed and wind stress to ambient noise. Locally measured wind stress (as opposed to that computed using the geostrophic wind) did not substantially improve the correlation with ambient noise. Two tools to conceptualize the Arctic noise field were employed during the SHEBA experiment: the use of RADARSAT with RGPS and the PIPS computation of energy dissipation rate. By comparing the output from these two systems with the ambient noise record, their effectiveness and usefulness as input to an Arctic ambient noise model could be determined. Several notable events in the winter and summer noise record were examined utilizing RGPS and PIPS. The event analysis confirmed the fact that distant noise sources can have an effect on a local noise field. RGPS and PIPS were not useful in the summer due to the open nature of the icepack
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