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Godin O. A. (December 2007): Restless rays, steady wave fronts. J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 122 (6), 3353-3363. doi:10.1121/1.2799479

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Observations of underwater acoustic fields with vertical line arrays and numerical simulations of long-range sound propagation in an ocean perturbed by internal gravity waves indicate that acoustic wave fronts are much more stable than the rays comprising these wave fronts. This paper provides a theoretical explanation of the phenomenon of wave front stability in a medium with weak sound-speed perturbations. It is shown analytically that at propagation ranges that are large compared to the correlation length of the sound-speed perturbations but smaller than ranges at which ray chaos develops, end points of rays launched from a point source and having a given travel time are scattered primarily along the wave front corresponding to the same travel time in the unperturbed environment. The ratio of root mean square displacements of the ray end points along and across the unperturbed wave front increases with range as the ratio of ray length to correlation length of environmental perturbations. An intuitive physical explanation of the theoretical results is proposed. The relative stability of wave fronts compared to rays is shown to follow from Fermat’s principle and dimensional considerations.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1121/1.2799479