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# What is wave speed?

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Wave speed is a measure of how fast a wave travels. It is calculated as a ratio of how far a wave travels to the time it takes the wave to travel that distance.

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Credit: Kevin Dooley CC-BY-2.0

Wave speed can be determined if certain properties of the wave are known, such as wavelength, period and frequency. The speed of the wave is calculated as a ratio of one wavelength to one period of the wave. It can also be calculated as the product of the wavelength and the frequency. Increasing either wavelength or the frequency increases the speed of waves. In waves such as light, however, the speed remains constant in a given medium, while increasing one of the variables, such as wavelength, causes a decrease in the other variable, which is frequency.

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## Related Questions

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Sound travels through a medium as a mechanical wave. It cannot travel in a vacuum because it travels by vibrating the particles of the medium to transfer energy from one place to another.

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Sound travels through water at a speed of around 3316 miles per hour or 1.482 kilometers per second. That is about 4.3 times faster than sound travels through air. The speed changes slightly depending on the salinity of the water.

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Temperature affects the speed of sound by changing the density of the medium in which a sound wave travels. In most cases, when the temperature of a medium increases so does the speed of sound through that medium.