National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce

NOAA/NPS Ocean Noise Reference Station Network

NOAA/NPS Ocean Noise Reference Station Network

Small global map of hydrophone network

This unique network of hydrophones is a collaborative effort between OAR’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), all NMFS Science Centers, the NOS National Marine Sanctuary System, and the National Park Service to establish and collect consistent and comparable long-term acoustic data sets covering all major regions of the U.S.

Click here for larger globe view.

For a Google Earth view of the stations, open the kmz file here.

NOAA Investigates Ocean Noise During COVID-19

NOAA has launched a wide-ranging research effort to investigate the impact of reduced vehicle traffic, air travel, shipping, manufacturing and other activities on Earth’s atmosphere and oceans.The story mentions a variety of research going on, including PMEL’s ocean acoustic research. PMEL along with NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology, NOAA Sanctuaries and Department of Interior’s National Park Service are collaborating to analyze data from hydrophones deployed around the United States coastal waters to measure changes and assess any impacts on fisheries and marine mammal activity due to reduced maritime transportation and other maritime activities.  


Passive acoustic monitoring of the ocean ambient sound field is a critical aspect of NOAA’s mandate for ocean and coastal stewardship. This includes detecting and characterizing: (1) sounds produced and used by living marine resources (e.g., endangered marine mammals); (2) natural sources of noise from physical oceanographic processes; and (3) anthropogenic noise sources that contribute to the overall ocean noise environment. Noise generated by anthropogenic activities (especially commercial shipping and seismic oil & gas exploration) is increasingly being recognized as a potential threat to marine mammals which are protected in the U.S. by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Current scientific data suggest that increased ambient noise levels impact marine mammals by hindering communication (Hatch et al. 2012), altering communication behavior (Parks et al. 2013), altering locomotive behavior (Pirotta et al. 2013), and inducing stress (Rolland et al. 2012).

Additional concerns associated with the degraded acoustic quality of diverse habitats broaden these concerns to include possible repercussions for fish and invertebrate species, many of which NOAA manages as commercially-harvested, protects as resources within sanctuaries, or studies as key elements to sustaining healthy ecosystems. For these reasons it is important for science-based regulatory agencies including NOAA to monitor long-term trends and changes in the ambient sound field.

Research Objective

The objective of the project is to establish a network of ocean noise reference stations in U.S. waters to monitor long-term changes and trends in the underwater ambient sound field (McDonald et al. 2006). The identical autonomous acoustic recording systems were developed and built in-house at PMEL to ensure proper calibration and consistency of the collected data sets. The hydrophone moorings are currently deployed in the following areas:


Download deployments information: PDF | Excel | CSV

It is of critical importance to continue these baseline measurements so we can establish as long a time series as possible to gauge the changes induced by anthropogenic and climate stressors on the marine ambient sound environment (for a summary see Hildebrand 2009). We will investigate the spatio-temporal variability in low-frequency deep ocean ambient sound levels (10 - 2,200 Hz) at these 12 ocean regions within the U.S. EEZ. Our ongoing goal is to maintain (and possibly expand) the array and build a multi-year record of ambient sound levels in these regions. We will then be able to identify and delineate seasonal and long-term man-made and climate-induced noise sources.


Haver, S., Gedamke, J., Hatch, L.T., Dziak, R.P., Van Parijs, S., McKenna, M., Barlow, J., Berchok, C., DiDonato, E., Hanson, B., Haxel, J., Holt, M., Lipski, D., Matsumoto, H., Meinig, C., Mellinger, D.K., Moore, S., Oleson, E., Soldevilla, M., Klinck, H. (2018). Monitoring Long-Term Ambient Noise Trends in U.S. Waters: The NOAA/NPS Ocean Noise Reference Station Network. Marine Policy, 90C, 6-13.

Haver, S., Fournet, M.E.H., Dziak, R.P., Gabriele, C., Gedamke, J., Hatch, L.T., Haxel, J., Heppell, S.A.,McKenna, M., Mellinger, D.K., Van Parijs, S.M. (2019). Comparing the Underwater Soundscapes of Four U.S. National Parks and Marine Sanctuaries. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6, 500, 1-14.


Robert P. Dziak, Joe Haxel, Samara Haver, Haru Matsumoto, David K. Mellinger
2115 SE OSU Drive
Newport, OR 97365

Holger Klinck
Bioacoustics Research Program,
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University
159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

Jay Barlow
8901 La Jolla Shores Drive
La Jolla, CA 92037

Brad Hanson, Marla Holt
2725 Montlake Boulevard East
Seattle, WA 98112

Melissa Soldevilla
75 Virginia Beach Drive
Miami, FL 33149

Jason Gedamke
Office of Science and Technology, NOAA Fisheries
1315 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA

Danielle Lipski
Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
1 Bear Valley Road, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956, USA

Catherine Berchok
7600 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115

Leila Hatch
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
175 Edward Foster Road
Scituate, MA 02066

Erin Oleson
1601 Kapiolani Boulevard
Honolulu, HI 96814

Sofie Van Parijs
166 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543

Christopher Kavanagh, Eva DiDonato
National Park Service Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division
1201 Oakridge Drive, Suite 100
Fort Collins, CO 80525, USA,


Hatch, L.T., Clark, C.W., Van Parijs, S.M., Frankel, A.S., and Ponirakis D.W. (2012): Quantifying loss of acoustic communication space for right whales in and around a U.S. National Marine Sanctuary. Conservation Biology, 26:983-994.

Hildebrand, J.A. (2009): Anthropogenic and natural sources of ambient noise in the ocean. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 395:5-20.

McDonald, M.A., Hildebrand, J.A., and Wiggins, S. M. (2006): Increase in deep ocean ambient noise in the Northeast Pacific west of San Nicolas Island, California. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 1520:711-718.

Porter, M., and Henderson, L. (2013): Global ocean soundscapes. Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics, 19:010050 (6 pages).

Parks, S.E., Johnson, M.P., Nowacek, D.P., and Tyack, P.L. (2012): Changes in Vocal Behavior of North Atlantic Right Whales in Increased Noise. In: The Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life, Popper, A.N., Hawkins, A. eds., Springer, pp. 317-320.

Pirotta, E., Milor, R., Moretti, D., Di Marzio, N., Tyack, P.L., and Hastie, G. (2013): Vessel Noise Affects Beaked Whale Behavior: Results of a Dedicated Acoustic Response Study. PLoS ONE, 7(8):e42535.

Rolland, R.M., Parks, S.E., Hunt, K.E., Castellote, M., Corkeron, P.J., Nowacek, D.P., Wasser, S.K., and Kraus, S.D. (2012): Evidence that ship noise increases stress in right whales. Proceedings of the Royal Society B., 279:2363-2368.