National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2018

Monitoring long-term soundscape trends in U.S. waters: The NOAA/NPS Ocean Noise Reference Station Network

Haver, S.M., J. Gedamke, L.T. Hatch, R.P. Dziak, S. Van Parijs, M.F. McKenna, J.P. Barlow, C. Berchok, E. DiDonato, B. Hanson, J. Haxel, M. Holt, D. Lipski, H. Matsumoto, C. Meinig, D.K. Mellinger, S.E. Moore, E.M. Oleson, M.S. Soldevilla, and H. Klinck

Mar. Policy, 90, 6–13, doi: 10.1016/j.marpol.2018.01.023 (2018)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Park Service (NPS) Ocean Noise Reference Station (NRS) Network is an array of currently twelve calibrated autonomous passive acoustic recorders. The first NRS was deployed in June 2014, and eleven additional stations were added to the network during the following two years. The twelve stations record data that can be used to quantify baseline levels and multi-year trends in ocean ambient sound across the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and island territories within and near to the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (U.S. EEZ). The network provides multi-year, continuous observations of low-frequency underwater sound between 10 Hz and 2000 Hz to capture anthropogenic, biological, and geophysical contributions to the marine soundscape at each location. Comparisons over time and among recording sites will provide information on the presence of calling animals and the prevalence of abiotic and anthropogenic activities that contribute to each soundscape. Implementation of the NRS Network advances broad-scale passive acoustic sensing capabilities within NOAA and the NPS and is an important tool for monitoring protected areas and marine species and assessing potential environmental impacts of anthropogenic noise sources. This analysis focuses on the first year of recordings and captures the wide variability of low-frequency sound levels among and within individual NRS sites over time. Continued data collection will provide information on long-term, low-frequency sound level trends within or near the U.S. EEZ and will be used to explore the value of using soundscape analysis to inform management and mitigation strategies.

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