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Advantages of SONAR | disadvantages of SONAR

This page covers advantages and disadvantages of SONAR. It mentions SONAR advantages or benefits and SONAR disadvantages or drawbacks. SONAR stands for SOund Navigation And Ranging.

What is SONAR?

• It is a system used to detect objects under water to measure depth of water, mapping of seafloor etc.
• It works by emitting sound pulses and detecting or measuring reflected pulses. SONAR locates object by estimation of acoustic travel time and direction of arrival between sonar sensor and the object.
• SONAR technology is similar to radar, ultrasound and seismics technologies.
• There are two types of SONAR viz. passive sonar and active sonar as shown in the figure-1.
• Passive Sonar: In this sonar type, acoustic noise waves are radiated by the target and SONAR receives the acoustic signals.
• Active Sonar: In this sonar type, SONAR itself transmits acoustic signal which propagates towards target (or reflector) and gets reflected. This reflected waves travel back towards SONAR receiver.
• It is used for estimation of range, direction of arrival etc.

Active SONAR vs Passive SONAR

It is widely used for various applications such as fish finding, seafloor imaging, seafloor mapping, finding submarines, underwater navigation etc.

There are other SONAR types which include hand-held sonar and intercept sonar. Advantages and disadvantages of SONAR depends on its type and end applications usage. Following are the typical benefits and drawbacks of generic SONAR as per its principle of working operation.

Benefits or advantages of SONAR

Following are the benefits or advantages of SONAR:
➨It is the only system used to find & identify objects in the water effectively. It is also used to determine depth of water.
➨It is used for various water based activities. This is due to the fact that sound waves used by SONAR do not attenuate much in the sea water compare to radar waves and light waves.
➨It is very accurate system.
➨It is not too expensive.

Drawbacks or disadvantages of SONAR

Following are the drawbacks or disadvantages of SONAR:
➨The waves emitted by SONAR interfere with whales, dolphines, seals, turtles, sea lions etc. Hence it threatens marine life.
➨SONAR system generates lot of noise which depend on sound levels generated by SONAR.
➨The acoustic waves used in SONAR are affected by sound velocity variations over depth. This causes refraction of acoustic energy. Moreover ocean acts as lossy medium for acoustic waves. This requires use of high level sound waves to compensate for the losses which results into threat for humans ( e.g. well divers and military) and sea animals.

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