Counterintuitive Results in Underwater Acoustic Communications

Published In

Underwater Acoustics and Ocean Dynamics

Document Type


Publication Date



Book chapter.

Underwater wireless communication using acoustic signals is a difficult problem and progress in finding robust solutions has been disappointing. Methods employed successfully in terrestrial wireless communications have not always transitioned successfully to underwater scenarios. An engineer’s intuition developed in solving the terrestrial problem may actually become a hindrance to solving the underwater problem. In the present work, several seemingly counterintuitive experimental results are examined: communications performance can be better when the range is longer rather than shorter, when the sea surface is rough rather than calm, when the bathymetry is undulating rather than flat. Physics-based explanations for the observed results are developed. A physicist’s intuition, however, also may fail when trying to develop useful models. A seemingly counterintuitive fact is that acoustic paths that undergo incoherent reflection from a rough sea surface can be shown experimentally to be useful for coherent communications. The requirements for a proper physics-based model are sketched.


© Zhejiang University Press and Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016



Persistent Identifier