High Quality
Acous3c Habitat
Iden%fying areas of
rela%ve natural quiet

Jim Cummings, Execu3ve Director

Soundscape monitoring and modeling
Con%nental-scale modeling

Anthropogenic noise — increase above natural ambient
MenniA, K Fristrup, K Sherrill, L Nelson. (2013) Mapping sound pressure levels on a con3nental scale using a geospa3al sound model. Internoise 2013.

Soundscape monitoring and modeling
Ocean-basin scale noise monitoring
North Atlan%c: Maine to Georgia

Rice, et al. Varia3on of ocean acous3c environments along the western North Atlan3c coast: A case
study in context of the right whale migra3on route. Ecological Informa3cs 21 (2014) 89-99

Soundscape monitoring and modeling
Listening in remote waters
Bowhead whale acous%c world
One year, six research teams
2300km transect, 20 sites


Southern Ocean Hydrophone Network

Van Opzeeland, I., Samaran, F., Stafford, K. M., Findlay, K., Gedamke, J.,
Harris, D., & Miller, B. S. (2014). Towards collec3ve circum-antarc3c passive
acous3c monitoring: the southern ocean hydrophone network (SOHN).
Polarforschung, 83(2), 47-61

Clark, Berchok, Blackwell, Hannay, Jones, Ponirakis, Stafford. A year in the
acous3c world of bowhead whales in the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.
Progress in Oceanography 136 (2015) 223-240

Emerging noise sources
Changing Arc%c soundscape
Icebreaking as dominant new noise source
in expanding “marginal ice zone”

“Ship cavita3on caused by heavy
icebreaking is the dominant source,
increasing the NL by more than
10dB below 1000Hz and 28dB at
15Hz. The cavita3on noise during
the 2013 experiment dominates at
distances as large as 100km from
the icebreaker. This implies that

this type of noise may change
the Arc%c soundscape
2016 paper, Fram Strait, between Greenland and Svalbard
F Geyer, H Sagen, G Hope, M Babiker, P Worcester. Iden3fica3on and quan3fica3on of soundscape
components in the Marginal Ice Zone. J. Acous. Soc. Am. 139 (4), April 2016, 1873-1885

Emerging noise sources
Subsea oil and gas processing

Considered key to deep-water and arc%c development
“some real screamers” (exceeds ambient to 20-25km at 500Hz+ )

Currently just star%ng to be deployed; no regulatory oversight
20-year lifespan, opera%ng con%nuously

Emerging noise sources
Many more, on land and sea
Seafloor mining

Backcountry access
Vehicles of all kinds

New shipping ports
Cau3on, vigilance needed in areas that are
rela%vely pris%ne OR approaching acous%c satura%on

How can ecoacous%cs help?
Promising research direc%ons
We’ve started with basic soundscape characteriza%on
Poten3al value for ecosystem-health assessment

Next: asking the “so what” ques%ons

Species-specific listening area analyses / func%onal consequences

Consider key listening frequencies, call source levels, real-world
communica3on/listening ranges, innate adapta3ons to noise

Especially useful for land managers, policy planners:

Combine noise maps with popula%on data and cri%cal habitats
Iden3fy rela3vely healthy acous3c habitats
Aim to help minimize new anthropogenic impacts

Promising research direc%ons
Oil and gas development
BLM 20-yr reasonable
foreseeable development
Orange: low end
5% of region
(based on past Resource
Management Plans)

Red: poten%al
10% of region

(historic densi3es were 3x earlier
RMP es3mates; leases in place on
81% of federal lands with
development poten3al)
Map is overlaid on
Sage Grouse Core Areas
Copeland HE, Doherty KE, Naugle DE, Pocewicz A, Kiesecker JM (2009) Mapping Oil and Gas Development Poten3al in the US Intermountain West
and Es3ma3ng Impacts to Species. PLoS ONE 4(10): e7400. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007400

Promising research direc%ons
ACCOBAMS “noise hotspots” mapping
Number of noise sources

Sources include seismic, shipping,
harbor traffic, offshore energy sites,
Naval exercises
(data incomplete in some areas)

Note cetacean habitat areas (hatched) with 1 or 2 noise sources
Conserva3on poten3al, especially if source is transient
A Maglio, G Pavan, M Castellote, S Frey. Overview of the Noise Hotspots in the ACCOBAMS Area, Part I
- Mediterranean Sea. ACCOBAMS Technical report, January 2016. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.2574.8560/1

Promising research direc%ons
Species-specific communica%on space analyses
“Acous%c quality” of habitats

5 frequency bands
Varying call types &
source levels
Fin whales: least impact
Orcas: most impact

Williams, Clark,Ponirakas, Ashe. Acous3c quality of cri3cal habitats for three
threatened whale popula3ons. Animal Conserva3on (2013)

Erbe, MacGillivray, Williams. Mapping cumula3ve noise from shipping to inform marine
spa3al planning. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 132 (5), November 2012

Humpbacks: mixed

Promising research direc%ons
Iden%fying areas with predominantly natural soundscapes
“Opportunity sites”


shipping noise



Rob Williams, Chris3ne Erbe, Erin Ashe, Christopher Clark. Quiet(er) marine protected areas.
Marine Pollu3on Bulle3n (2015), hAp:// j.marpolbul.2015.09.012

“If two places are equally
important to whales, with one
being noisy and the other being
quiet, it would be helpful to
iden3fy those areas.... The noisy
area may require mi3ga3on,
whereas the quiet area may
make a more a`rac%ve or
convenient candidate for
cri%cal habitat protec%on,
either because it represents
higher quality habitat to the
animals or because it imposes
lower economic costs to society
to mi3gate anthropogenic

Promising research direc%ons
Iden%fying areas with predominantly natural soundscapes
“The quietest sites in our study (primarily mainland inlets) have substan%al
periods of quiet that are quieter than any recorded off the US east coast
(Hatch et al., 2012). As researchers consider experimental approaches to
beAer quan3fy ecosystem-level effects of noise (Boyd et al., 2011), unusually
quiet places like BC’s mainland inlets may present opportuni%es for
conduc%ng ocean noise or quie%ng experiments, or to consider novel
conserva%on mechanisms to preserve acous%c wilderness sites.

The quietest noise measurements in our study match those reported by Urick
(1983). This means that there are places and %mes today where once-normal
windows of quiet s%ll exist. For marine mammals and fishes, these are the
levels in which natural and sexual selec%on occurred, and these are the
condi3ons under which the ‘acous3c arms race’ between predator and prey
evolved (Tyack & Clark, 2000). Today, throughout the Northern Hemisphere,
those once-normal levels are becoming the excep%on rather than the rule.”
Williams, Clark,Ponirakas, Ashe. Acous3c quality of cri3cal habitats for three threatened whale popula3ons. Animal Conserva3on (2013)

Toward acous%c refuges
Lots of talk, li`le ac%on, in MPA and Marine Sanctuary realm
2009 policy joining NPS in managing noise

“The Na3onal Marine Sanctuary will use the tools and
authori3es at its disposal to prevent and/or mi%gate
human-induced acous%c impacts on sanctuary
resources..... As feasible and as necessary, consider
regula%on to mi%gate or eliminate ac%vi%es that
generate human-induced acous3c impacts to
sanctuary resources.”

“In the marine realm, emerging noise management prac3ces (and)
the broad mandate of the NMSA provides a unique opportunity
to create noise management prac%ces and regula%ons that
represent today’s best available science.”
Leila Hatch, NOAA, Stellwagen Bank Na=onal Marine Sanctuary
Kurt Fristrup, Na=onal Park Service, Natural Sounds Program Center

Policy Guidance, Office of Na3onal Marine Sanctuaries. Human-induced acous3c impacts on marine life. March 2009. Daniel J. Bastra, Director.
Leila T Hatch, Kurt M Fristrup. No barrier at the boundaries: implemen3ng regional frameworks for noise management in protected natural areas.
Mar Ecol Prog Ser Vol. 395: 223-244, 2009.

Toward acous%c refuges
Lots of talk, li`le ac%on, in MPA and Marine Sanctuary realm
North American Intergovernmental Commi`ee on Protec%on
for Wilderness and Protected Area Conserva%on

2011 Consensus Statement on Marine Wilderness
“Establishing marine wilderness protected areas should be
considered a NAWPA objec%ve achievable over the long term. ...
These can serve as clear examples of marine areas with ecologically
intact ecosystems that have management goals which preserve the
wild character and nature of these special places.”
•  Protec3ng spawning habitat, reproduc3on areas, foraging grounds,
migratory stopover habitat
•  Limi%ng human ac%vi%es in some areas including transporta%on,
energy extrac%on and explora%on, and military opera%ons

CONSERVING MARINE WILDERNESS , Marine Wilderness Working Group Consensus Version, 2011, 2013.
Jim Cummings. Sound/Noise and Marine Life: Why assessing, monitoring, and perhaps regula3ng sound
in MPAs could be helpful. Marine Wilderness 10+10 Workshop, February 2015.

Global effort underway to expand MPAs
We need to add sound considera%ons to the discussion
UN, Rome, 2016

10x20 Project
10% of oceans by 2020

Global Ocean Refuge
System (GLORES)

30% each biogeographic
region by 2030
Some “fully protected”

Marine Wilderness 10+10

2015, Project Wild,
NAWPA gov’t agencies
Build local cons3tuency for
experiments in wilderness
within 20 MPAs

Terrestrial wildlands: good news?
85% of protected lands have rela%vely modest noise impacts

US protected lands of all kinds (federal, state, local, private)
3dB+ human impact: 15% of protected area (yellow, red)
But: 56% of units! (3ny speckles, preserves in red)
R Buxton, MF McKenna, E Brown, D Mennit, K Fristrup, K Crooks, L Angeloni, G WiAemyer. Noise pollu3on in US protected areas. AAAS Poster.

Terrestrial wildlands: bad news!
Remnants of natural quiet shrinking rapidly
12% of con%guous US

1.4dB human impact or less

“a near-ubiquitous transforma3on of
the acous3cal environment”1

“The quan3ty of land with a
rela3vely low level of impact is
striking. . . the loca3ons of the areas
that are let suggest that ecological
systems are heavily fragmented.”2
1 Clinton D. Francis. Vocal traits and diet explain avian sensi3vi3es to
anthropogenic noise. Global Change Biology, 2015. Doi: 10.1111/gcb.12862
2 D MenniA, K Fristrup, K Sherrill, L Nelson. (2013) Mapping sound pressure
levels on a con3nental scale using a geospa3al sound model. Internoise 2013.
3 The Last Remaining Quiet Places in the Con3nental United States. Map by
Noise Pollu3on Clearinghouse, Stone Environmental, using ESRI data.

Making a difference
Federal land management — difficult to get trac%on
NPS doing great science
Pushing forward into
tougher ques=ons

Difficult to implement policy
changes to reduce noise
GCNP air tours, 20-yr process
NPS proposed flight-free %mes
around sunrise and sunset
(fantas;c idea!)
Rare Senate bipar%sanship:

Reid/McCain scu`led the plan

24%: audible > 2/3 of day (RED)
49%: audible > 1/4 of day
37%: audible <5% of day (DK BLUE)

Drat Environmental Impact Statement Special Flight Rules Area in the Vicinity of Grand Canyon Na3onal Park
McCain, Reid succeed in quest to stop Grand Canyon overflight rules, AEInews, 7/2/12 hAp://

Making a difference
Federal land management — difficult to get trac%on
2015: FAA rebuffed NPS input
on new Bay Area airports flight pa`erns
New corridor over a rela=vely quiet part of Point Reyes;
con=nued heavy impact on Yosemite
“We have a long history of
[the FAA] not agreeing with us.
We feel we’re obligated to get this
noise off of the wilderness areas;
we’re just trying to do our job,
and they’re just ignoring us.”

Judy Rocchio, NPS Pacific West Region
“A lot of high-al%tude jets … get funneled over Yosemite. It’s just constant.”
Vicki Ward, NPS overflights program manager

FAA spurns opportunity for quiet area protec3on in traffic paAern updates. AEInews, 6/30/15. hAp://
Denver FAA revision just beginning! hAp://

Making a difference
Local and regional conserva%on — more poten%al for success?
Iden%fy areas with
conserva%on value for
acous%c habitat
and quiet recrea%on
(find pockets near ci=es!)

MenniA, K Fristrup, K Sherrill, L Nelson. (2013) Mapping sound pressure levels on a con3nental scale using a geospa3al sound model. Internoise 2013.

Making a difference
Local and regional conserva%on — more poten%al for success?
All levels of rela%ve natural quiet
have conserva%on value
“Good enough” for local recrea%on
No extreme noise (airports, highways)
Chronic local traffic noise is faint
High value recrea%on/conserva%on
Opportuni3es for extended
noise-free periods

Na3onal Park Service model (above)

Predominantly free of noise

Noise Pollu3on Clearinghouse model (below)
The Last Remaining Quiet Places in the Con3nental United States. Map by Noise
Pollu3on Clearinghouse, Stone Environmental, using ESRI data.
MenniA, K Fristrup, K Sherrill, L Nelson. (2013) Mapping sound pressure levels on a
con3nental scale using a geospa3al sound model. Internoise 2013.
F Turina, E Lynch, K Fristrup. Recommended Indicators and Thresholds of Acous3c
Resource Quality. NPS State of the Park Reports. Interim Guidance, 2013.

Making a difference
Local and regional conserva%on — more poten%al for success?

Bay of Fundy: Soundscape study by regional conserva%on group
Iden3fied possible “acous3c refuge”
Lower noise / higher biodiversity
closer to shipping than some others—but tucked behind shorelines

Eric Brunsdon, Donald Killorn. The Coastal Soundscape Study of the Outer Bay of Fundy. Eastern CharloAe Waterways, 2016.

Terrestrial, marine collabora%on
Unifying marine and terrestrial management objec%ves

Interna%onal Quiet Ocean Experiment
Ini%al scien%fic commi`ee mee%ng, March 2016
7-year research project
One year of intensive acous%cs studies worldwide

VERY interested in collabora%on
with terrestrial ecoacous%cs

Final thoughts
Protec%ng rela%ve natural quiet
Les Blomberg, NPC:
So far, protec%on of quiet “isn’t a policy decision.
It is an accident of geography and economics.”

Kurt Fristrup, NPS:
We’re losing the ability to
“appreciate expansive listening opportuni%es”
“This giy that we are born with – to reach out and hear things
hundreds of meters away, all these incredible sounds – is in
danger of being lost through a genera%onal amnesia.”

Public Outreach Workshop: Noise in Communi3es and Natural Areas, Denver, August 27, 2013. NAE, NPS,

Resources/informa3on on all manner of sound-related
environmental issues and science
science summaries special reports news updates

Thanks to Stuart and cohorts for making
this event happen!
Jim Cummings, Execu3ve Director

Below are supplemental slides, deleted from the presentation for brevity

Soundscape monitoring and modeling
Recent explosion of interest in sound

See hAp://

P Tyack, G Frisk, I Boyd, E Urban, S Seeyave, Editors. Interna3onal Quiet Ocean Experiment Science Plan. 2015. Interna3onal
Council for Science, Scien3fic CommiAee on Oceanic Research; Partnership for Observa3on of the Global Oceans.

Soundscape monitoring and modeling
Sources of sound

Biophony, geophony, technophony
Kanai Na3onal Wildlife Refuge
TC Mullet, SH Gage, JM Morton, F HueAmann. Temporal and spa3al varia3on of a winter soundscape in
south-central Alaska. Landscape Ecol, 2015. DOI 10.1007/210980-015-0323-0

Soundscape monitoring and modeling
Sound budgets — seasonal

Parks, Miklos-Olds, Denes. Assessing marine acous3c diversity across ocean basins. Ecological Informa3cs 21 (2014) 81–88
SEE ALSO: Sirovic, Wiggins, Oleson. Ocean noise in the tropical and subtropical Pacific Ocean. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 134 (4), October 2013

Soundscape monitoring and modeling
Listening in busy waters



Some surprises
Seismic survey sounds in remote polar Atlan%c
Increases to ambient:

5-10dB, up to 20dB

Some3mes greater
than other major
noise sources
(winter storms &
whales, both 10dB)

Klink et al, Seasonal presence of cetaceans and ambient noise levels in polar waters of the North Atlan3c. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 132 (3), September 2012

Some surprises
Shipping noise not rising in all areas
North Pacific
1960s-1990s 3dB/decade
trends have changed
Indian Ocean
S3ll increasing

South Atlan%c
Equatorial Pacific
Signs of recent leveling,
but likely higher than 80s

JL Miklos-Olds, SM Nichols. Is low frequency ocean sound increasing globally? J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 139 (1), January 2016, 501-511
Andrew, R. K., Howe, B. M., and Mercer, J. A. (2011). “Long-3me trends in ship traffic noise for four sites off the North American West Coast,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 129, 642–651.
Miksis-Olds, J. L., Bradley, D. L., and Niu, X. M. (2013). “Decadal trends in Indian Ocean ambient sound,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 134, 3464–3475.
Miksis-Olds, J. L., Bradley, D. L., and Niu, X. M. (2014). “Erratum: Decadal trends in Indian Ocean ambient sound [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 134(5), 3464–3475 (2013)],” J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 135, 1642.

Making a difference
Chicago-region “resource protec%on areas”
Not designed as sound-related
Seeking linkages (light green)
between exis3ng public
open spaces (dark green)
Could readily be combined with
regional detail from the NPS
con3nental-scale noise map
featured earlier to focus on areas
of rela3vely lower human noise.

(but good luck; this ain’t no Tucson!)

Liam Heneghan et al. Lessons Learned from Chicago Wilderness—
Implemen3ng and Sustaining Conserva3on Management in an Urban
Se}ng. Diversity 2012, 4(1), 74-93; doi:10.3390/d4010074

Increasing acous%c concerns
Animal effects more widespread than earlier believed

Eels: more vulnerable to predators
Shellfish: less successful larval development
Crabs: reduced foraging, slower responses to predators
Fish: reduced nest digging and vigilance

Fish near bridge pilings?
Birds around oil and gas installa;ons?

24 Right whales: 84%
Fin whales: 33%
Eels: hAp://; Crabs: hAp:// Fish and road noise: hAp://
Shellfish larvae: hAp://

Emerging noise sources
Increased Arc%c shipping
Canadian Northwest Passage
2016: first large cruise ship
Cargo mostly on ends, so far
300-350 voyages/year
Russian Northern Sea Route
30-70 full transits/year

Arc3c Council
very focused on this

8 Arc3c countries
6 regional indigenous councils

Emerging noise sources
Increased Arc%c shipping
Pressing need for designated shipping corridors
2016 Pew report:

The Integrated Arc%c
Corridors Framework
Canadian Coast Guard
proposed voluntary
plan allows transits of
45% of biologically and
socially significant areas
Pew framework limits
this to 25%


Emerging noise sources
Antarc%c tourism

“The governance system doesn’t
really have an idea how [tourism]
trends should look in 10, 20, 30
years. Antarc%ca is a special place, it
is set aside, and we don’t want it to
look like anywhere else.”
Claire Chris=an, Antarc=c and
Southern Ocean Coali=on

48 companies, 55 vessels
40,000 people/year
So far, safety limita3ons are concentra3ng the impact:
77% of visitors on under 500 acres

Improving popula%on distribu%on data
The other half of the equa%on

Combines 100’s of
data sets


(Monthly for some)
Marine mammals
Rays, turtles
Even some

Habitat-based Cetacean Density Models For The U.S. Atlan3c And Gulf Of Mexico (2015 Version). Developed By Marine Geospa3al Ecology Laboratory, Duke University

Improving popula%on distribu%on data
The other half of the equa%on
NOAA’s Cetacean Density
& Distribu%on Mapping
(CetMap) Working Group
Special issue of Aqua=c
Mammals, 2015:

Biologically Important Areas
for Cetaceans Within
US Waters
7 regional reviews of best
current data

Overlay sound data
and/or models
K Dudzinski, SM van Parijs, Eds. Biologically Important Areas for Cetaceans Within US Waters. Aqua3c Mammals 2015, 41(1), 1, DOI 10.1578/AM.41.1.2015.1

Terrestrial, marine collabora%on
Unifying marine and terrestrial cri%cal-area designa%ons

Beginning to integrate
Important Marine Mammal Areas
with their terrestrial
Key Biodiversity Areas

“the complete alignment of the
two processes is desirable.”

Joint Statement by the The IUCN WCPA-SSC Joint Task Force on Biodiversity and Protected Areas and
the IUCN WCPA-SSC Joint Task Force on Marine Mammal Protected Areas. 4 November 2015