Earth’s atmosphere produces a sound, but we can’t hear it

Hyperaxion Jul 9, 2020

This idea was first theorized in the 19th century by Pierre-Simon Laplace, but confirmed only now by Japanese and American scientists.

In a study published in the July issue of the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, researchers from the Kyoto University, Japan, and the University of Hawaii, in the United States, proved something that scientists had suspected for two centuries: Earth’s atmosphere vibrates in a wave pattern, producing a low-pitched ringing bell.

Earth's atmosphere produces a sound, but we can't hear it
Areas of low (blue) and high (red) pressure moving east over time. (Credit: Sakazaki and Hamilton).

The scientists realized that the vibration occurs in the form of large-scale waves of atmospheric pressure that travel around the equator, some moving from east to west and others in the opposite direction. This was first theorized in the 19th century by Pierre-Simon Laplace, studied over the following century, and now confirmed by Japanese and American scientists.

In the new study, the authors conducted a detailed analysis of changes in atmospheric pressure every hour for 38 years. The results reveal the presence of dozens of types of waves previously predicted by theoretical models.

Four models of pressure patterns caused by atmospheric waves over time. (Credit: Sakazaki and Hamilton).

The study focused on waves with periods between 2 hours and 33 hours that travel horizontally through the atmosphere, moving around the world at speeds above 1100 km/h (700 mi/h). According to scientists, as they spread, these waves interfere in the formation of regions of high and low atmospheric pressure.

“Our observed frequencies and global patterns match those theoretically predicted very well,” said the study’s lead author, Takatoshi Sakazaki, in a statement. “It is exciting to see the vision of Laplace and other pioneering physicists so completely validated after two centuries.”

Related topics:

Atmosphere Earth

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