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Understanding the impact of man-made noise on marine life

We are improving the calibration of hydrophones and underwater acoustic noise recording systems

The need

The growth of offshore activities such as oil and gas exploration and wind turbine construction, together with the rapid increase in commercial shipping traffic, has raised concerns about the environmental impact of man-made noise on marine life. This in turn has led to legislation designed to limit the impact of such noise, which has increased the demand for traceable measurement of sound in the ocean, but traceability is not widely available for acoustic frequencies below 1 kHz.

The impact

We are partners in a European project to develop the measurement capacity in underwater acoustic calibration for acoustic frequencies below 1 kHz. The project, called UNAC-LOW, will do this by providing traceable measurement capabilities to meet the need for calibration of hydrophones and autonomous underwater acoustic noise recording systems. The project will develop the scientific and technical research capabilities in the field within Europe, and provide an improved measurement framework to underpin the absolute measurement of sound in the ocean in support of regulation and EU Directives such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which aims to protect marine environment across the Continent but is currently lacking traceability.

As part of the project, we have introduced a new traceable calibration service to provide improved underwater acoustic data. The new solution, “Underwater Autonomous Acoustic Recorder Calibration Service” incorporates expertise in marine acoustic monitoring, offering traceable calibration data to its users to meet the relevant regulatory requirements. This will give equipment manufacturers the competitive edge in a growing market, and underpin emergent regulation with a more robust metrology infrastructure. The new service covers the frequency range 20 Hz to 315 Hz and provides a complete system calibration.