Abstract We present the methods and results of numerical experiments studying the low-frequency sound propagation in one of the areas of the Arctic shelf with a randomly inhomogeneous gas-saturated bottom. The characteristics of the upper layer of bottom sedimentary rocks (sediments) used in calculations were obtained during a 3D seismic survey and trial drilling of the seafloor. We demonstrate the possibilities of substituting in numerical simulation a real bottom with a fluid homogeneous half-space where the effective value of the sound speed is equal to the average sound speed in the bottom, with averaging along the sound propagation path to a sediment depth of 0.6 wavelength in the bottom. An original technique is proposed for estimating the sound speed propagation in an upper inhomogeneous sediment layer. The technique is based on measurements of acoustic wave attenuation in water during waveguide propagation.