WP1: Noise Footprint Model


Main objectives

The WP1 focuses on building and validating a noise footprint assessment tool to estimate, at the scale of a maritime area, the contribution of the underwater noise produced by shipping activities by comparison to the natural ambient noise. It takes into account a combination of the environmental description of the area, the description of the shipping activity into the same area, and underwater acoustic propagation models.

Bioacoustics criteria are also included in the noise footprint assessment tool.

Task 1.1 Needs and policies

The first subtask T1.1.1 established a map of all the maritime areas where there are already recommendations and rules regarding underwater noise impact. Information on the legal and institutional conditions on which European marine areas in general were/are/will be managed and implemented have been gathered. Good practices have been identified in order to adequately define the needs. A cross-analysis of the conjunction of intense ship traffic and presence of sensitive marine species has resulted in maps allowing the identification of priority areas of interest in European waters.

Deliverable D1.1

The second subtask T1.1.2 includes a literature review, focusing on papers or documents related to underwater noise due to shipping and impact on marine life. Then, a discussion is carried out using parallel considerations with airborne noise environmental issues and with the assessment of sonar detection performance. Finally, it proposes the definition of noise footprint adopted by the AQUO Project and clarifies the use of noise maps and statistical indicators.

Deliverable D1.2

Task 1.2 Scenarios for noise footprint assessment

A scenario, in relation to the noise footprint assessment model, is defined by the maritime area of interest and sensor locations, the period of the year and the weather conditions, the topology and physical characteristics of sea bottom, the underwater acoustics parameters (natural ambient noise, speed of sound and density in water with respect to depth and range), the ship traffic (type of ships, ship spatial and time distribution, ship routes and speeds…), and the ship characteristics (underwater radiated noise with respect to speed). Two types of scenarios were retained to numerically simulate noise footprint:

  • The first type is devoted to the validation of the footprint assessment model in Task 1.4 of the AQUO Project. In that case, ship traffic and type is not controlled but will be registered using AIS information.
  • The second type is devoted to the determination of the efficiency of noise mitigation measures (such as reduction of intrinsic radiated noise of ships, introduction of ship speed limitations, modification of ship routes…), in the scope of Task 5.4 of AQUO Project.

Based on the analysis of their interest regarding both ship traffic and marine life, three test areas were selected for modelling in the Quonops© tool: OBSEA (Mediterranean Sea, close to Barcelona), ANTARES (Mediterranean Sea, offshore Toulon), USHANT (Atlantic Ocean, Offshore Brittany).

Task 1.3 Development of noise footprint assessment model

This task is devoted to the implementation of the methodology in Quonops©, a global ocean noise prediction platform by Quiet-Oceans. The research effort of the project has led to the delivery of an operational footprint assessment tool, which include real-time access to acoustic data stream for calibration. In the scope of the AQUO Project this tool has allowed continuous mapping of shipping and natural noise across three areas within European waters. This innovative operational service for ocean noise footprint assessment, which has been calibrated using in-situ underwater noise data provided by the LIDO interface, is now fully operational for the AQUO project WP5 research in order to evaluate the efficiency of a series of mitigation solutions, and also constitutes a decision aid tool for policy makers.

Task 1.4 Validation of the noise footprint model

The objective of this task is to validate the implementation of real-time soundscape modelling. To achieve this, the modelling performed by Quonops© has been compared to measured data from in-situ measurements, and to alternative modelling software suites developed by UNIGE and FOI. The test maritime area is close to the OBSEA platform, an underwater observatory deployed by UPC near Barcelona (Spain). The oceanographic equipment is composed of a buoy and underwater measuring systems, including a hydrophone. Data was recorded during the period from March to July 2014, including the ship traffic through AIS information. The good comparison between the results allows the validation at this stage.

Deliverable D1.6

WP1 Partners: