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J Acoust Soc Am. 2010 Jun;127(6):3394-410. doi: 10.1121/1.3419774.

Model calculations of the underwater noise of breaking waves and comparison with experiment.

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Marine Physical Laboratory, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, La Jolla, California 92093-0238, USA.


A model for the underwater noise of whitecaps is presented and compared with the noise measured beneath plunging seawater laboratory waves. The noise from a few hundred hertz up to at least 80 kHz is assumed to be due to the pulses of sound radiated by bubbles formed within a breaking wave crest. The total noise level and its dependence on frequency are a function of bubble creation rate, bubble damping factor and an 'acoustical skin depth' associated with scattering and absorption by the bubble plume formed within the crest. Calculation of breaking wave noise is made using estimates of these factors, which are made independently of the noise itself. The results are in good agreement with wave noise measured in a laboratory flume when compensated for reverberation. A closed-form, analytical expression for the wave noise is presented, which shows a -11/6 power-law dependence of noise level on frequency, in good agreement with the -10/6 scaling law commonly observed in the open ocean.


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