NPL launches first traceable calibration service for underwater acoustic recorders
The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the UK's National Measurement Institute, has launched a new service to provide confidence in underwater acoustic data. The Underwater Autonomous Acoustic Recorder Calibration Service is the only one of its kind, combining NPL's state-of-the-art, independent validation and world-leading expertise in marine acoustic monitoring, to give users confidence in the accuracy of their sensors and traceability of their data.
Accurate monitoring of underwater noise is vital in understanding the effect of human activity – from installing offshore windfarms to dredging harbours – on marine wildlife. European environmental regulations and guidelines, such as the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, aim to protect wildlife from the negative impacts of noise from shipping, offshore energy exploration, construction and other activities. To ensure that compliance with such regulations is maintained, and reduce the risk of failed projects, the Directive's Technical Group on Underwater Noise recommends that acoustic monitoring sensors be calibrated before deployment.
NPL's unique service provides calibration of underwater autonomous acoustic recorders that is traceable back to international standards, providing users assurance in meeting regulatory requirements. It allows equipment manufacturers and consultancies to offer a more transparent and superior service to their customers, through NPL's independent validation, enhancing data utility and giving them a competitive advantage. The service is also designed to provide end users and researchers with increased confidence in their data to reduce the risk of invalid results or halted operations and improve the quality of work.
Dr Tanja Pangerc, a Higher Research Scientist in the Ultrasound and Underwater Acoustics Group at NPL, said: "We have seen a huge uptake in underwater acoustic measurement, driven by the introduction of new legislation and regulation, alongside the availability of new sensing technology. However, there are currently few assurances of the quality of the data obtained with uncalibrated equipment. After speaking to device manufacturers, we realised that there was a pressing need for a calibration service to ensure the data being recorded was accurate and traceable, and to reduce the risk of non-compliance. Our service – the first of its kind – will enable users of underwater acoustic sensors to record robust, actionable data, and give equipment manufacturers the competitive edge in a growing market."
Dr Federica Pace, Marine Technical Director at Baker Consultants, an ecological consultancy service who recently worked with NPL, said: "Data without traceability is useless. Without calibration, it is difficult to compare the results of monitoring or draw actionable conclusions from them. Working with NPL has enabled us to provide comprehensive and accurate data to our clients that they can confidently act on, and I believe that through the service, NPL will help to encourage best practice in the industry."
NPL's Underwater Autonomous Acoustic Recorder Calibration Service is being launched at Ocean Business 2017, held on 4-6 April in Southampton.
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