Underwater Acoustics - Measurements - Ambient Noise

Ambient Noise

Measurement of acoustic signals are possible if their amplitude exceeds a minimum threshold, determined partly by the signal processing used and partly by the level of background noise. Ambient noise is that part of the received noise that is independent of the source, receiver and platform characteristics. This it excludes reverberation and towing noise for example.

The background noise present in the ocean, or ambient noise, has many different sources and varies with location and frequency. At the lowest frequencies, from about 0.1 Hz to 10 Hz, ocean turbulence and microseisms are the primary contributors to the noise background. Typical noise spectrum levels decrease with increasing frequency from about 140 dB re 1 μPa²/Hz at 1 Hz to about 30 dB re 1 μPa²/Hz at 100 kHz. Distant ship traffic is one of the dominant noise sources in most areas for frequencies of around 100 Hz, while wind-induced surface noise is the main source between 1 kHz and 30 kHz. At very high frequencies, above 100 kHz, thermal noise of water molecules begins to dominate. The thermal noise spectral level at 100 kHz is 25 dB re 1 μPa²/Hz. The spectral density of thermal noise increases by 20 dB per decade (approximately 6 dB per octave).

Transient sound sources also contribute to ambient noise. These can include intermittent geological activity, such as earthquakes and underwater volcanoes, rainfall on the surface, and biological activity. Biological sources include cetaceans (especially blue, fin and sperm whales), certain types of fish, and snapping shrimp.

Rain can produce high levels of ambient noise. However the numerical relationship between rain rate and ambient noise level is difficult to determine because measurement of rain rate is problematic at sea.

Read more about this topic:  Underwater Acoustics, Measurements

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