RNS
Browse Projects > Detailed View

Marine Transportation and Underwater Sound Impacts

Description:

Human-generated sound in the marine environment has been increasing. Marine shipping is one of the major sources of underwater sound; specifically regarding low frequency (5–500 Hz) noise. Ship noise carries over large geographic areas, especially at higher latitudes such as the Arctic.

The following activities also contribute to increases in underwater sound:

• Energy exploration and production (including offshore renewable sources).

• Port infrastructure improvements (e.g., dredging).

• Structure demolition and replacement.

The effects of sound vary depending on its intensity, frequency, and duration. Effects are species specific and range from behavioral responses such as avoidance to injury and death. Effects are most severe for species that are susceptible to barotrauma effects (e.g., certain fish) and species that rely on sound to communicate and find prey and mates (e.g., marine mammals). Many of these species are also protected under federal regulations (e.g., Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act), at least in U.S. waters.

Objective:

Research is ongoing concerning the species and habitats most at risk to anthropogenic underwater sound and what frequencies, intensities, and duration of sounds pose an unacceptable level of impact. Compiling and summarizing this information could provide a useful tool for researchers, government agencies, and non-governmental groups to better understand the problem and potential solutions. This evaluation could include:

• Assessment of sounds related to marine transportation.

• Marine shipping’s contribution to underwater sound.

• Global models to predict ocean noise and its source.

• Areas such as ports and shipping lanes where shipping could be adding an unacceptable level of sound.

• Ways to mitigate shipping noise, including propeller cavitation, without compromising safety and efficiency. Including operational considerations (e.g., changes in cruising speed)

• Long-term, large-scale noise monitoring in the ocean.

• Characterization of noise features based on location and environment type.

• Collection and integration of existing datasets through a national network to share data on marine sound, using social media and innovative, modern means for expanding the size of and access to data.

• Cost-effective target-of-opportunity measurements of individual ships using existing and planned networks of underwater sensors in conjunction with AIS and other ancillary data sources.

• Response of certain species to vessel traffic using telemetry and other remote sensing methods.

Benefits:

Local agencies, non-governmental groups and academic researchers are likely to benefit from this project as it will provide a better understanding of the impact that vessel noise can have on local ecosystems and to suggest mitigation and monitoring measure to reduce the impact of these events, ensuring the continuation of protected species.

Related Research:

The International Quiet Ocean Experiment (IQOE) is an umbrella organization aiming to undertake related research. Their website has a compendium of recent, related work that should be referenced.

Tasks:

The following tasks are not comprehensive. They are intended as a guide to what might be necessary to successfully complete the research:

Phase 1 Problem Assessment

  • Compile studies that document responses of certain species to vessel traffic using telemetry and other remote sensing methods.

  • Develop map of fishing grounds and mammal migratory routes that can be used to identify areas where sensitive species reside.

  • Map areas such as ports and shipping lanes where shipping could be adding an unacceptable level of sound.

  • Assessment of sounds associated with marine transportation.

  • Compile data on Long-term, large-scale noise monitoring in the ocean.

  • Review global models to predict ocean noise and its source.

  • Summarize Phase 1 findings

    *   Map location of sensitive species and over lay shipping lanes and port boundaries
    
    • Compile studies that document responses to underwater noise
    • Summarize types and magnitude of sound associated with shipping
    • Summarize available sound monitory studies
    • Provide a matrix of the strengths and limitation of global sound models.

Phase 2 Mitigation/Monitoring Options

  • Summarize ways to mitigate shipping noise, including propeller cavitation, without compromising safety and efficiency. Including operational considerations (e.g., changes in vessel cruising speed)

  • Propose a plan to collect and integrate existing datasets through a national network to share data on marine sound, possibly using social media and innovative, modern means for expanding the size of and access to data.

  • Develop a proposal to identify individual ships that represent a sound hazard using existing and planned networks of underwater sensors in conjunction with AIS and other ancillary data sources.

Phase 3 Outreach

Prepare outreach material and PowerPoint presentation for dissemination to potential users/ stakeholders

Implementation:

Because of the breadth of information required to implement this study, keeping the data organized in a useful fashion will likely be the biggest challenge.

Relevance:

This research will be relevant to local agencies to better understand the impact that vessel noise is having on local ecosystems and to suggest mitigation and monitoring measure to reduce the impact of these events.

Sponsoring Committee:AW030, Marine Environment
Research Period:12 - 24 months
Research Priority:Medium
RNS Developer:Richard Billings and Christopher Roof
Source Info:EPA, BOEM NOAA and U.S. Navy studies, comprehensive Environmental Impact Studies, academic research projects, and the International Quiet Ocean Experiment
Date Posted:12/19/2017
Date Modified:01/05/2018
Index Terms:Underwater sound, Environmental impacts, Environmental protection, Animals,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Subjects    
Marine Transportation
Environment

Please click here if you wish to share information or are aware of any research underway that addresses issues in this research needs statement. The information may be helpful to the sponsoring committee in keeping the statement up-to-date.