Spatial and Temporal Variability of Ambient Underwater Sound in the Baltic Sea

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  • Mirko Mustonen, Tallinn University of Technology
  • ,
  • Aleksander Klauson, Tallinn University of Technology
  • ,
  • Mathias Andersson, Swedish Defence Research Agency
  • ,
  • Dominique Clorennec, Quiet-Oceans
  • ,
  • Thomas Folegot, Quiet-Oceans
  • ,
  • Radomił Koza, University of Gdansk
  • ,
  • Jukka Pajala, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
  • ,
  • Leif Persson, Swedish Defence Research Agency
  • ,
  • Jarosław Tegowski, University of Gdansk
  • ,
  • Jakob Tougaard
  • Magnus Wahlberg, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Biology
  • ,
  • Peter Sigray, Swedish Defence Research Agency

During last decades, anthropogenic underwater sound and its chronic impact on marine species have been recognised as an environmental protection challenge. At the same time, studies on the spatial and temporal variability of ambient sound, and how it is affected by biotic, abiotic and anthropogenic factors are lacking. This paper presents analysis of a large-scale and long-term underwater sound monitoring in the Baltic Sea. Throughout the year 2014, sound was monitored in 36 Baltic Sea locations. Selected locations covered different natural conditions and ship traffic intensities. The 63 Hz, 125 Hz and 2 kHz one-third octave band sound pressure levels were calculated and analysed. The levels varied significantly from one monitoring location to another. The annual median sound pressure level of the quietest and the loudest location differed almost 50 dB in the 63 Hz one-third octave band. Largest difference in the monthly medians was 15 dB in 63 Hz one-third octave band. The same monitoring locations annual estimated probability density functions for two yearly periods show strong similarity. The data variability grows as the averaging time period is reduced. Maritime traffic elevates the ambient sound levels in many areas of the Baltic Sea during extensive time periods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13237
JournalScientific Reports
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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