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.
IQOE is past the mid-point in implementation of its Science Plan (available here) and has successfully coordinated a variety of activities in ocean acoustics and bioacoustics through IQOE working groups on the use of acoustics to assess biodiversity, the importance of acoustic observations in the Arctic Ocean, standards for reporting ocean acoustic and bioacoustic data for IQOE, software for making acoustic observations comparable worldwide, and recommendations for implementation of an Ocean Sound Essential Ocean Variable for the Global Ocean Observing System. IQOE progress has been documented since June 2018 through IQOE Newsletters and since the beginning of the project through other products. IQOE identified 2020 as the Year of the Quiet Ocean because of evidence that ocean sound decreased because of decreases in human activities in the ocean due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Activities in 2022 will include completion of the Ocean Sound Essential Ocean Variable Implementation Plan, initiation of new activities on low-cost ocean acoustic observing systems, launch of the Open Portal to Underwater Sound (OPUS), work on ocean acoustics for the UN Decade on Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and meetings of IQOE working groups and Science Committee.