Sound speed gradient

When sound spreads out evenly in all directions in three dimensions, the intensity drops in proportion to the inverse square of the distance. However, in the ocean there is a layer called the 'deep sound channel' or SOFAR channel which can confine sound waves at a particular depth. In the SOFAR channel, the speed of sound is lower than that in the layers above and below. Just as light waves will refract towards a region of higher index, sound waves will refract towards a region where their speed is reduced. The result is that sound gets confined in the layer, much the way light can be confined in a sheet of glass or optical fiber. Thus, the sound is confined in essentially two dimensions. In two dimensions the intensity drops in proportion to only the inverse of the distance. This allows waves to travel much further before being undetectably faint. A similar effect occurs in the atmosphere. Project Mogul successfully used this effect to detect a nuclear explosion at a considerable distance. In acoustics, the sound speed gradient is the rate of change of the speed of sound with distance, for example with depth in the ocean,[1] or height in the Earth's atmosphere. A sound speed gradient leads to refraction of sound wavefronts in the direction of lower sound speed, causing the sound rays to follow a curved path. The radius of curvature of the sound path is inversely proportional to the gradient.[2] When the sun warms the Earth's surface, there is a negative temperature gradient in atmosphere. The speed of sound decreases with decreasing temperature, so this also creates a negative sound speed gradient.[3] The sound wave front travels faster near the ground, so the sound is refracted upward, away from listeners on the ground, creating an acoustic shadow at some distanc from the source.[4] The opposite effect happens when the ground is covered with snow, or in the morning over water, when the sound speed gradient is positive. In this case, sound waves can be refracted from the upper levels down to the surface.[3] In underwater acoustics, speed of sound depends on pressure (hence depth), temperature, and salinity of seawater, thus leading to vertical speed gradients similar to those that exist in atmospheric acoustics. However, when there is a zero sound speed gradient, values of sound speed have the same "isospeed" in all parts of a given water column (there is no change in sound speed with depth).[1] The same effect happens in an isothermal atmosphere with the ideal gas assumption. The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by Earth's gravity. The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention (greenhouse effect), and reducing temperature extremes between day and night (the diurnal temperature variation). Atmospheric stratification describes the structure of the atmosphere, dividing it into distinct layers, each with specific characteristics such as temperature or composition. The atmosphere has a mass of about 5?1018 kg, three quarters of which is within about 11 km (6.8 mi; 36,000 ft) of the surface. The atmosphere becomes thinner and thinner with increasing altitude, with no definite boundary between the atmosphere and outer space. An altitude of 120 km (75 mi) is where atmospheric effects become noticeable during atmospheric reentry of spacecraft. The Karman line, at 100 km (62 mi), also is often regarded as the boundary between atmosphere and outer space. This altitude amounts to 1.57% of the Earth's radius.