OUR OCEANS REMAIN MYSTERIOUS AND ALIEN but we are learning more about it every day—sometimes, out of necessity. Such as the need to understand changes in the temperatures of the waters as a potential reflection of global climate change. In an article titled “Underwater earthquakes’ sound waves reveal changes in ocean warming.” by for Science News (September 17, 2020).
The article’s sub-title is, “Seismic ocean thermometry could improve temperature monitoring in the vast seas.” While depth and temperature affect sound traveling through water, essentially sound waves travel approximately four times faster and four times farther in water than they do in the air. This is why whales can communicate over vast distances in the oceans. According to Gramling:
“As greenhouse gas emissions warm the planet, the ocean is absorbing vast amounts of that heat. To monitor the change, a global fleet of about 4,000 devices called Argo floats is collecting temperature data from the ocean’s upper 2,000 meters. But that data collection is scanty in some regions, including deeper reaches of the ocean and areas under sea ice.
So Wenbo Wu, a seismologist at Caltech, and colleagues are resurfacing a decades-old idea: using the speed of sound in seawater to estimate ocean temperatures. Wu’s team tested a way to use earthquake-generated sound waves traveling across the East Indian Ocean to estimate temperature changes in those waters from 2005 to 2016.
Comparing that data with similar information from Argo floats and computer models showed that the new results matched well. That finding suggests that the technique, dubbed seismic ocean thermometry, holds promise for tracking the impact of climate change on less well-studied ocean regions.”
To read the article in its entirety, click HERE.
FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page accompanied the Science News article. The caption: “Sound waves produced by the rumbles of undersea quakes provide a new way to study how climate change is warming the oceans.” The photo courtesy of Silas Baisch for Unsplash.