Bolide Energetics and Infrasound Propagation: Exploring the 18 December 2018 Bering Sea Event to Identify Limitations of Empirical and Numerical Models

Arrowsmith, Stephen and Negraru, Petru and Johnson, Greg
The Seismic Record, 2021

Infrasound observations are an important tool in assessing the energetics of bolides and can help quantify the flux of meteoroids through Earth’s atmosphere. Bolides are also important atmospheric sources for assessing long‐range infrasound propagation models and can be used as benchmark events for validating the International Monitoring System (IMS) infrasound network, which is designed to detect nuclear tests in the atmosphere. This article exploits unique infrasound observations from a large bolide recorded on IMS infrasound arrays and high‐density infrasound deployments in the United States to assess limitations in infrasound source scaling relationships. The observations provide an unprecedented sampling of infrasound propagation along a transect at an azimuth of 60° from the source to a distance of ∼8000 km. Widely used empirical laws for assessing bolide energetics and state‐of‐the‐art numerical models for simulating infrasound propagation are assessed to quantify important discrepancies with the observations. In particular, empirical laws for equivalent yield, which are based on signal period and are assumed to be relatively unaffected by propagation effects, can be heavily contaminated by site noise. In addition, by modeling infrasound propagation over a range of ∼8000 km, we show that state‐of‐the‐art models do not reproduce the observed amplitude decay over this long range (which decays by a rate of at least 2 higher than can be modeled).

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