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Soundscape and ambient noise levels of the Arctic waters around Greenland

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A longer Arctic open water season is expected to increase underwater noise levels due to anthropogenic activities such as shipping, seismic surveys, sonar, and construction. Many Arctic marine mammal species depend on sound for communication, navigation, and foraging, therefore quantifying underwater noise levels is critical for documenting change and providing input to management and legislation. Here we present long-term underwater sound recordings from 26 deployments around Greenland from 2011 to 2020. Ambient noise was analysed in third octave and decade bands and further investigated using generic detectors searching for tonal and transient sounds. Ambient noise levels partly overlap with previous Arctic observations, however we report much lower noise levels than previously documented, specifically for Melville Bay and the Greenland Sea. Consistent seasonal noise patterns occur in Melville Bay, Baffin Bay and Greenland Sea, with noise levels peaking in late summer and autumn correlating with open water periods and seismic surveys. These three regions also had similar tonal detection patterns that peaked in May/June, likely due to bearded seal vocalisations. Biological activity was more readily identified using detectors rather than band levels. We encourage additional research to quantify proportional noise contributions from geophysical, biological, and anthropogenic sources in Arctic waters.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23360
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Number of pages15
ISSN2045-2322
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

    Research areas

  • Passive acoustic monitoring, Marine mammals, Noise pollution, Third octave level, Seismic survey, Shipping

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