Endorsed projects are expected to help achieve the scientific goals of the IQOE, to help develop and follow standards for research and observations, to help develop and follow the IQOE data policy, and to work together with other projects with shared goals.
Sound provides a powerful tool for studying marine life, ocean dynamics, and human use of marine resources. Passive acoustic technology can be used to non-invasively assess environmental noise levels, surface conditions, human activity, and the distribution and biodiversity of vocalizing marine life. Active acoustic technology provides a high-resolution (in both time and space) measure of biological (zooplankton and fish abundance and distribution) and physical oceanographic processes (internal waves, frontal systems). We propose to combine acoustic information gathered over multiple years with similarly sampled time series of contextual data from space-based remote sensing, hydrographic sensors, and biologic sensors to fully comprehend how human, biologic, and natural abiotic components create the soundscape and ecosystem dynamics of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Measurements made within this research program will serve as a baseline for pattern and trend analyses of ambient noise levels and the ecosystem components contributing to the OCS soundscapes. The outputs of this study will be standardized tools for comparing soundscapes across regions and predictive models for the soundscape of the southeast OCS at water depths of 100-1000 m. The models will allow the project sponsors to estimate the short-term and cumulative effects on the soundscape from changes in human activity as well as ecosystem changes driven by climate change or other environmental factors.
Sounds are omnipresent in the underwater environment and can be produced by natural (waves, weather, animals) and anthropogenic (shipping, construction) sources. There is an increasing concern about the possibility of negative effects of anthropogenic underwater sound on marine fauna. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD: 2008/56/EG) requires all EU Member States (MS) to reach or maintain Good Environmental Status (GES). GES is described in 11 Descriptors and all the MS must set criteria and methodological standards for each Descriptor in their marine strategies. The MSFD explicitly encourages regional co-operation between member states. Descriptor 11 focuses on introduction of energy in the marine environment, including underwater sounds. It describes two indicators: loud, low and mid frequency impulsive sounds (11.1.1); and continuous low frequency sound (11.2.1), widely referred to as “ambient sound”. Ambient sound arises from both natural and anthropogenic sources. Current noise levels in European marine waters and their impact on the ecosystem are largely unknown. The aim of this project is to develop a framework for a fully operational joint monitoring programme for ambient sound in the North Sea. Outputs will be the tools necessary for managers, planners and other stakeholders to incorporate the effects of ambient noise in their assessment of the environmental status of the North Sea, and to develop measures to improve the environment.