Calculated Versus Observed Underwater Sound Speed

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Sound velocity or speed is very important to anyone using sonar equipment in areas where the salinity level, as well as other factors, changes. Sound is the most preferred energy to be used by underwater warfare, communications and navigation because its range of transmission is greater in comparison to other forms of energy, such as light or radio waves.


The speed of sound in air is approximately figured out by the formula . . . speed of sound (m/s) = 331.5 + 0.60 T(C). The speed or velocity, at which sound travels through water was first researched by Sir Isaac Newton in 1687 when he found that measurements of sound in fluids relied only on the physical properties of the fluid, such as elasticity and density (Funk & Wagnalls). The speed of sound in water is about four times greater than that in air. Although this seems to contradict the physical law that the denser the gas, the slower the speed of sound, the sound speed is actually determined more by the elasticity of the medium (Urick, 1983).
In 1822, Daniel Colloden used an underwater bell in an attempt to calculate the speed of sound underwater in Lake Geneva, Switzerland. His attempts resulted in figures remarkably close to today's accepted values (Acoustics . . . 2006). But sound speed cannot be discussed without mention of Jaque Sturm, French mathematician, who made the first accurate measurements of sound velocity in water in 1826. World War I created a great necessity to study the propagation of sound under water, with more progress in World War II and increased understanding from current research (Funk & Wagnalls). ...
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