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Homework Help: Ship and Iceberg - Speed of sound question

  1. Feb 26, 2012 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    17.While cruising the North Atlantic in a fog, a ship blew its horn, and received an echo from an iceberg 4.0 s later. The temperature of the air was 5°C, the temperature of the iceberg was 0°C, and the temperature of the water was 2°C In order to calculate the distance from the ship to the iceberg, the captain must also know the speed of sound in:

    ice at 0°C.
    water at 2°C.
    water at 0°C.
    air at 0°C.
    air at 5°C.

    2. Relevant equations


    3. The attempt at a solution

    If there were no fog the answer would definitely be E, but since there is a significant
    amount of water in the air I thought the answer was B.

    Turns out the water doesn't make a difference because the answer sheet says E. :confused:
    Could somebody please explain?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2012 #2

    Andrew Mason

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    Water content has some effect on the speed of sound in air so to be perfectly accurate you should have the speed of sound in saturated air at 5° C. But I expect it is not much different than the speed of sound in dry air at the same temperature.

  4. Feb 26, 2012 #3


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    Staff Emeritus
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    The sound is traveling through what medium? What is the temperature of that medium?
  5. Feb 26, 2012 #4


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    Gold Member

    While foggy air certainly contains more water than dry air, I think you'll agree it doesn't have anywhere close to as much water in it as the sea.
  6. Feb 26, 2012 #5
    Thanks to everyone who answered.
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