National Physical Laboratory

Metrology for underwater acoustic noise


The increasing level of man-made sound in the ocean (whether deliberately generated or not) has led to concern over marine noise pollution. In particular, exposure of marine life to underwater man-made noise is of growing concern as the effects of this exposure begin to be understood. Regulatory requirements are increasing, and underwater noise is now explicitly classified as pollution, for example in the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) which requires member states to achieve Good Environmental Status for European seas.

NPL provides metrology to underpin the protection of the marine environment from anthropogenic noise. This involves establishing in-situ methods for underwater noise measurement of anthropogenic sources, and for ocean ambient noise. Sources of concern include shipping, oil and gas exploration, and both construction and operational noise from marine renewables. There is a need for improved metrology infrastructure in this rapidly evolving area to ensure that decisions are based on robust metrology and sound science, and that the metrology catches up with the rapidly evolving legislative framework.

NPL also provides guidance and expertise in the measurement and assessment of underwater radiated noise and conducts noise surveys in collaboration with academic partners. We offer advice and consultancy on the environmental impact assessment of underwater noise for offshore developments such as windfarms.

NPL’s work in this area falls into a number of areas:

NPL also organises a number of meetings and seminars on underwater noise measurement

You can download the Underwater Noise Measurement Flyer for further information.


Customer Services tel: +44 20 8943 8631

Last Updated: 4 Apr 2013
Created: 6 Jun 2007


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