National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2010

A sound budget for the southeastern Bering Sea: Measuring wind, rainfall, shipping, and other sources of underwater sound

Nystuen, J.A., S.E. Moore, and P.J. Stabeno

J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 128(1), 58−65, doi: 10.1121/1.3436547 (2010)

Ambient sound in the ocean contains quantifiable information about the marine environment. A passive aquatic listener (PAL) was deployed at a long-term mooring site in the southeastern Bering Sea from 27 April through 28 September 2004. This was a chain mooring with lots of clanking. However, the sampling strategy of the PAL filtered through this noise and allowed the background sound field to be quantified for natural signals. Distinctive signals include the sound from wind, drizzle and rain. These sources dominate the sound budget and their intensity can be used to quantify wind speed and rainfall rate. The wind speed measurement has an accuracy of ±0.4 m s−1 when compared to a buoy-mounted anemometer. The rainfall rate measurement is consistent with a land-based measurement in the Aleutian chain at Cold Bay, AK (170 km south of the mooring location). Other identifiable sounds include ships and short transient tones. The PAL was designed to reject transients in the range important for quantification of wind speed and rainfall, but serendipitously recorded peaks in the sound spectrum between 200 Hz and 3 kHz. Some of these tones are consistent with whale calls, but most are apparently associated with mooring self-noise.

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