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Underwater noise caused by precipitation


The characteristics of underwater noise in the ocean generated by precipitation are important to weather forecasters and oceanographers because they permit the detection and measurement of rain over the oceans by remote (buoyed or bottom-mounted) acoustic sensors. We have recently observed the chracteristics of the underwater noise generated by rain, hail and snow. The spectrum of rain noise, for wind speeds below 1.5 m s−1, shows a peak at 13.5 kHz with a sharp cutoff on the low-frequency side and a gradual fall-off (7 dB per octave) on the high-frequency side. Stronger winds smear the peak. Hail spectra show a peak at 3.0 kHz with a gradual (roughly 11 dB per octave) fall-off on both sides. The spectrum of snow noise is unique. Our instrumentation permitted the measurement of the drop (or stone) size distributions in the precipitation. These findings will enhance the art of remote acoustic sensing in oceanography.

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Scrimger, J. Underwater noise caused by precipitation. Nature 318, 647–649 (1985).

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