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Underwater sound channel

Arctic Sound Duct

WHOI engineers led by Lee Freitag have developed and tested a long-distance communications system that would transmit and receive signals under Arctic Ocean sea ice. They exploited a naturally occurring layer of cold water that forms in the Arctic Ocean, bounded above and below by warmer layers. This acts as a "sound duct" that channels sound waves over long distances. Sound beacons suspended in the channel emit signals that travel to other buoys and to autonomous underwater vehicles, enabling them to navigate and collect data in ice-covered areas where ships and people cannot easily travel. Data is relayed from the buoys to scientists via satellite. (Illustration by Eric S. Taylor, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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