The objective of this project is to establish a NOAA operated network of initially nine ocean noise reference stations in U.S. waters to monitor long-term changes and trends in the underwater ambient sound field. We will deploy and operate identical autonomous acoustic recording systems developed in-house at each reference station to ensure proper calibration and consistency of the collected data sets.
Passive acoustic monitoring of the ocean ambient sound field is a critical aspect of NOAA’s mandate for ocean and coastal stewardship. This includes detecting and characterizing: (1) sounds produced and used by living marine resources (e.g., endangered marine mammals); (2) natural sources of noise from physical oceanographic processes; and (3) anthropogenic noise sources that contribute to the overall ocean noise environment.
Noise generated by anthropogenic activities (especially commercial shipping and seismic oil & gas exploration) is increasingly being recognized as a potential threat to marine mammals which are protected in the U.S. by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Current scientific data suggest that increased ambient noise levels impact marine mammals by hindering communication, altering communication behavior, altering locomotive behavior, and inducing stress. Additional concerns associated with the degraded acoustic quality of diverse habitats broaden these concerns to include possible repercussions for fish and invertebrate species, many of which NOAA manages as commercially-harvested, protects as resources within sanctuaries, or studies as key elements to sustaining healthy ecosystems. For these reasons it is important for science-based regulatory agencies including NOAA to monitor long-term trends and changes in the ambient sound field. However, consistent and comparable multi-year acoustic data sets covering all major regions of the U.S. do not exist. This is a collaborative effort between OAR’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), all NMFS Science Centers, and three of the sites within the NOS National Marine Sanctuary System to establish an Ocean Noise Reference Station Network to collect these very important and valuable acoustic long-term data sets.
Co-PIs: Robert Dziak, Haru Matsumoto, David Mellinger (all OSU & NOAA/PMEL), Jay Barlow (NOAA/SWFSC), Catherine Berchok (NOAA/AFSC), Brad Hanson (NOAA/NWFSC), Marla Holt (NOAA/NWFSC), Leila Hatch (NOAA/SBNMS), Christian Meinig (NOAA/PMEL), Erin Oleson (NOAA/PIFSC), Melissa Soldevilla (NOAA/SEFSC), Sofie Van Parijs (NOAA/NEFSC), Sue Moore (NOAA/ST), Megan Mckenna (NPS)