Sound speed

The speed of sound in sea water is a fundamental oceanographic variable that determines the behavior of sound propagation in the ocean. Equation (2.1) defined the speed of sound in sea water as a function of the isothermal compressibility, the ratio of specific heats of sea water at constant pressure and constant volume, and the density of sea water.

The term "sound velocity" is sometimes used synonymously with "sound speed." The symbol c, which is commonly used to indicate sound speed, is derived from the word "celerity."

Since Equation (2.1) is difficult to compute in practice, considerable work has been devoted to expressing the speed of sound in sea water in terms of more commonly observed oceanographic parameters. Specifically, it is known empirically that sound speed varies as a function of water temperature, salinity and pressure (or depth). Moreover, the speed of sound in sea water increases with an increase in any of these three parameters.

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