A little deeper into the International Quiet Ocean Experiment.

 

The 2011 Internat

Subsea oiloperations in West Africa

ional Quiet Ocean Experiment (IQOE) brought together leading scientists and researchers [download] to dig deeper into the issue of human generated noise pollution with the objective of determining what we know, what needs to be known, how we should evaluate the field of impacts, and how we should find out what we don’t know.

As in any conference of this type there were plenary sessions speaking about the various aspects of the field with break-out groups to work on the specific topics to meet the objective.

Very much like the fluid boundaries of the ocean there were a lot of overlaps between the sessions, but the descriptions are:

1. Observing Systems, including technology and equipment – which looked at the varied ocean observing systems [download] currently in place with a mind to understand capacity, technologies, and collaborations.

2. Scientific knowledge needed for industry and regulators – evaluating what we do and don’t know, and what we should know about how to qualify and quantify noise and its biological impacts.

3. Ocean Soundscapes – what are they, what significance do they have, and how are they qualified and discussed in useful terms?

4. Designing research relating soundscapes to effects on organisms – are there quantifiable soundscape interactions that reveal the organism and population level relationships to noise?

5. Experimental approaches to understanding responses to organisms to specific sources – what types of experiments can be conducted to clarify the immediate-to-long-term impacts of noise on marine life.

I participated in session two, but wanted to peer into session five. Session three and session four overlapped differently than the way four and five did.

In the end we all managed to sort out and focus our groups, but I suspect that the final document may read more like Marcel Proust than an operations manual. Although I do believe that the document will provide meaningful guidance on how we need to understand, frame, and address the problem of human generated noise pollution in the sea.

xkcd.com -  "The Sea"

A little deeper into the International Quiet Ocean Experiment.

 

The 2011 Internat

Subsea oiloperations in West Africa

ional Quiet Ocean Experiment (IQOE) brought together leading scientists and researchers [download] to dig deeper into the issue of human generated noise pollution with the objective of determining what we know, what needs to be known, how we should evaluate the field of impacts, and how we should find out what we don’t know.

As in any conference of this type there were plenary sessions speaking about the various aspects of the field with break-out groups to work on the specific topics to meet the objective.

Very much like the fluid boundaries of the ocean there were a lot of overlaps between the sessions, but the descriptions are:

1. Observing Systems, including technology and equipment – which looked at the varied ocean observing systems [download] currently in place with a mind to understand capacity, technologies, and collaborations.

2. Scientific knowledge needed for industry and regulators – evaluating what we do and don’t know, and what we should know about how to qualify and quantify noise and its biological impacts.

3. Ocean Soundscapes – what are they, what significance do they have, and how are they qualified and discussed in useful terms?

4. Designing research relating soundscapes to effects on organisms – are there quantifiable soundscape interactions that reveal the organism and population level relationships to noise?

5. Experimental approaches to understanding responses to organisms to specific sources – what types of experiments can be conducted to clarify the immediate-to-long-term impacts of noise on marine life.

I participated in session two, but wanted to peer into session five. Session three and session four overlapped differently than the way four and five did.

In the end we all managed to sort out and focus our groups, but I suspect that the final document may read more like Marcel Proust than an operations manual. Although I do believe that the document will provide meaningful guidance on how we need to understand, frame, and address the problem of human generated noise pollution in the sea.

xkcd.com -  "The Sea"

Report from the International Quiet Ocean Experiment

Last week I attended the “International Quiet Ocean Experiment” (IQOE) at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The founding premise of the meeting is a bit outrageous – that somehow all maritime nations could come together and halt all of their ocean noise-making activities for some short period of time to observe the effects of this military-industrial silence on marine life.

Of course the idea of halting some 50,000 ocean transport vessels, all navies, marine petroleum operations, fishing fleets, mining and dredging, energy projects, underwater communications, pleasure craft, and seismic exploration is absurd. But the true incentive behind this improbable assertion was to bring together leading scientists and policy makers, explore our concerns, and devise a ten-year plan to understand and mitigate the impacts of anthropogenic noise on ocean life.

This first gathering represents a huge step in the right direction. When the issue first came up in he early 1990’s there was little consensus on anything. The geological-scale experiments at the time were being conducted by physical oceanographers who frankly did not understand biology; the biologists involved had forgotten their physics, and most of the work was being funded by the biggest noise-makers – whose priorities were not focused on conservation.

The IQOE discussions explored many topics, including observing systems technologies, the meaning of “ocean soundscapes,” what science is needed, how to conduct informative experiments, and how to measure the long-term and synergistic impacts of noise on marine life.

Many fine ideas were advanced and new thinking was cultivated which will help direct research and mitigation strategies for the next decade. There was a remarkable climate of collegiality and collaboration, and if there was any serious contention at the end of the day it was about the name – which we all agreed was an unlikely conceit. But using the name as a “branding” or marketing ploy really got under the fingernails of some of the scientists.

The name may change (although I doubt it), but we will keep you informed as the framing documents are issued and the project progresses.

Stay Tuned!  More details to come.

Michael Stocker

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