Ocean noise is one of the hottest topics of discussion around the globe. To add to that, researchers from Oregon State University have been successful in developing a new method to measure ocean sound levels. The project is in collaboration with fellow researchers at NOAA. This new method involves using an underwater robotic glider to determine the degree of sound levels over the large sections of the ocean.
According to Joe Haxel, senior researcher in this project, a healthy marine ecosystem requires noise levels inside some specific ranges. To put in simpler terms, it is like the difference between living somewhere in the city, or countryside, or someplace really loud. Haxel is working at the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at the Oregon State University.
Global Ocean Observing System lists ocean sound as a necessary ocean variable. This is because of its high importance for seagoing humans and marine life. With the help of ocean noise, researchers and engineers can locate and monitor everything from tsunamis to earthquakes, to nuclear explosions.
Why use Underwater Gliders?
Usually, researchers measure ocean sound with the help of a hydrophone. A hydrophone is essentially an underwater microphone. It is fixed to a mooring inside the water. However, a problem with this setting is that scientists get data only from a single location.
Ocean sound can also be detected with the help of a research ship. However, using a research ship is an expensive matter. They themselves create a lot of noise that can be very disturbing for fish and other marine animals.
Thus, attaching a hydrophone to an underwater glider solves a lot of such issues. As these gliders can operate autonomously, they are comparatively quieter and can also cover large distances. Moreover, multiple surveys of a marine site are possible because of these underwater gliders.