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Volume 124, Issue 4, October 2008
- AEROACOUSTICS, ATMOSPHERIC SOUND 
124(2008); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.2967474View Description Hide Description
A natural terrain surface, because of its porosity, can support an acoustic surface wave that is a mechanical analog of the familiar vertically polarized surface wave in AM radio transmission. At frequencies of several hundred hertz, the acoustic surface wave is attenuated over distances of a few hundred meters. At lower frequencies (e.g., below approximately ) the attenuation is much less, allowing surface waves to propagate thousands of meters. At night, a low-frequency surface wave is generally present at long ranges even when downward refraction is weak. Thus, surface waves represent a ubiquitous nighttime transmission mode that exists even when other transmission modes are weak or absent. Data from recent nighttime field experiments and theoretical calculations are presented, demonstrating the persistence of the surface wave under different meteorological conditions. The low-frequency surface wave described here is the “quasiharmonical” tail observed previously in nighttime measurements but not identified by S. Kulichkov and his colleagues (Chunchuzov, I. P. et al.1990. “On acoustical impulse propagation in a moving inhomogeneous atmospheric layer,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am.88, 455–461).