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The Bakerian Lecture, 1986. Ships from Space

Munk, W. H. and Scully-Power, P. and Zachariasen, F. (1987) The Bakerian Lecture, 1986. Ships from Space. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences, 412 (1843). p. 231. ISSN 1364-5021. doi:10.1098/rspa.1987.0087.

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Narrow V-shaped wakes extending some 20 km behind surface ships were first found on Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images from SEASAT in 1978. The V-wake geometry differed strikingly from the traditional Kelvin wake geometry consisting of divergent and transverse wave components generated by a travelling pressure point. The SAR images can be accounted for in terms of Bragg scatter from relatively short waves generated by the surface vessel. An essential ingredient of this hypothesis is that the wave generation is by an intermittent rather than a steady point source. Optical images from a hand-held camera on a 1985 space shuttle mission revealed many V-like wakes behind surface ships. There is no Bragg scattering from the ocean surface at optical wavelengths, so an alternative hypothesis is called for. We can interpret the observed features in terms of sun glitter from the tilted facets of a Kelvin wake. An essential ingredient is the generation by complex sources rather than by a single point source. We regard the present study as a step towards the interpretation of many unexplained naturally occurring features at the edge of the Sun glitter.

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Additional Information:© 1987 The Royal Society. Lecture delivered 11 September 1986; Typescript received 27 February 1987. Our thanks are due to Robert Stevenson of the Office of Naval Research, who gathered much of the material on which this discussion is based. Stevenson has played a leading and continuing role in observing the oceans from space since the Gemini flights in 1966. We are indebted to R. R. Hammond and R. R. Buntzen of the Naval Ocean Systems Center, San Diego, California, for many discussions. Don Betts has actively participated in preparing and presenting the photographic material. Some of the results of the radar analysis were described in JASON report JSR-84-203 in August 1984, and of the glitter analysis in JSR-86-203 in August 1986. W. H. M. acknowledges support received under the terms of the Secretary of the Navy Research Chair in Oceanography.
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Secretary of the Navy Research Chair in OceanographyUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:1843
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150128-142404684
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Official Citation:The Bakerian Lecture, 1986. Ships from Space Author(s): W. H. Munk, P. Scully-Power and F. Zachariasen Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Vol. 412, No. 1843 (Aug. 8, 1987), pp. 231-254 Published by: The Royal Society Stable URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:54195
Deposited On:29 Jan 2015 04:10
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 20:30

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