Ocean Acoustic Tomography from Moving Ships

Cornuelle, B, Munk W, Worcester P.  1989.  Ocean Acoustic Tomography from Moving Ships. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 94:6232-6250.

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Mesoscale mapping of the ocean sound speed field in a 1000×1000 km area by means of ocean acoustic tomography is greatly enhanced by augmenting a few acoustic moorings with a movable ship-based receiver. Computer simulations based on realistic noise levels in the measured acoustic travel times give 5% (1%) residual variance in ΔC(x;y,z) for four (six) acoustic source moorings in an ocean perturbed in the gravest baroclinic mode. For comparison, objective mapping based on traditional vertical profiles requires 3 times the steaming distance to yield equivalent residual error. Detailed results depend on many parameters: the assumed mesoscale spectrum and vertical mode structure, the number of observed multipaths, the mooring configuration, the number of ship stations and the travel time signal level (due to mesoscale eddies) and noise level (due to internal waves and position-keeping errors). These parameters have critical values, below which there is distinct deterioration and beyond which there is little gain. We believe that the critical values can be attained in practice so the ultimate limit on mesoscale mapping is imposed by the internal wave-induced travel time error. This assumes that position keeping of the submerged acoustic sources and receiver by a combination of satellite navigation and high-frequency acoustics can be achieved with ±10-m accuracy. The present study assumes a stationary ocean; a second paper will deal with reciprocal transmissions yielding currents and hence the barotropic mode. This is required in a dynamic ocean model for estimating ΔC(x,y,z;t). All this is preparatory to a tomography experiment in the Greenland Sea in 1988–1989.