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Underwater noise effects from offshore wind energy (UWE)

Project title: Effects of underwater noise from offshore wind turbines on marine mammals

Focus

  • Use of the North and Baltic Seas as sites for wind turbines results in greater exposure of marine mammals to underwater noise
  • What effects does underwater noise have on marine mammals?
  • Recommendations for action for the future expansion plan

Contact

University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation (TiHo)
Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research (ITAW)
Werftstr. 6, 25761 Büsum
Prof. Prof. h. c. Dr. Ursula Siebert
Tel.: +49 511 856-8153
Ursula.Siebert(at)avoid-unrequested-mailstiho-hannover.de

 

Funding

FKZ 3515 82 2000
Departmental research plan 2015
Term: 01.09.2015 – 31.08.2018

With the use of the North and Baltic Seas as sites for wind turbines, marine mammals are being exposed to increasing underwater noise. The planned methods and measuring procedures enable an evaluation of the effects of anthropogenic noise inputs on marine mammals in order to facilitate the nature conservation policy management of offshore wind turbines.

The research project examines the effects of the use of offshore wind energy on the marine environment. Nose emissions are an important part of this. Marine mammals such as porpoises and common and grey seals are sensitive to acoustic emissions. The acoustic pulses produced by pile driving in particular and the increasing background noise from the growing volume of shipping pose a threat of ongoing disturbance and harm to marine mammals. Information on the effects of noise on the behaviour and hearing of marine mammals is therefore of major importance.

METHODS

In WP1 porpoises and grey seals will be fitted with D tags and the noise emissions from offshore supply vessels measured and analysed.
WP2 will trial the effect of seal scarers on porpoises and grey seals in playback experiments using V-tags and GPS/GSM tags, as well as determining the onset of a hearing threshold shift in an animal kept in Kerteminde, Denmark.

In WP3 possible TTS (temporary threshold shifts) after exposure to repeated noise will be measured in wild porpoises that were unintentionally caught in fishing nets in Denmark. In addition, all C-POD and sound recording data collected from previous projects between 2013 and 2015 will be included in the evaluation of the potential effects of the construction and operation of wind turbines on the habitat use of marine mammals and compared with each other. The results of the noise measurements and C-POD recordings will be evaluated using statistical models.

Human disturbance can create an additional energy demand for porpoises, so that the animal's overall energy requirement is increased. In WP4 the D-Tag data collected from porpoises during the project will be evaluated in terms of the energy used for resting, feeding, migration and avoidance behaviour. Acoustic profiles for characteristic types of ships will also be developed in order to quantify the extent of the disturbance.

In WP5 the scientists in the project consortium will participate as necessary in meetings held by TSG Noise, OSPAR, HELCOM, ASCOBANS and MSFD and assist the BfN with data evaluation.

Work packages

Work packages

  1. Research on the effects of underwater noise on porpoises and grey and common seals
  2. Research on the effects on porpoises and grey and common seals of the sea scarers used as a protection measure during construction of wind turbines
  3. Effects of the construction and operation of wind turbines on the habitat use and hearing of porpoises, and further research on the hearing sensitivity of porpoises (multiple noise exposure) and "synergy studies"
  4. Analysis of disturbance from shipping noise to the energy balance of porpoises and quantification of possible effects on the population
  5. Preliminary work for a national monitoring system, definition of GES

Project partners

Project partners

Project management

University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation (TiHo)
Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research (ITAW)
Werftstr. 6, 25761 Büsum
Prof. Prof. h. c. Dr. Ursula Siebert
Tel.: +49 511 856-8153
Ursula.Siebert(at)avoid-unrequested-mailstiho-hannover.de

Project partners

Department of Bioscience
Faculty of Science and Technology
Aarhus University, Roskilde (Denmark)

DW-ShipConsult GmbH
Schwentinental

Funding authority

Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)
Konstantinstr. 110, 53179 Bonn
Frauke Feller
Tel.: +49 228 84911185
franke.feller(at)avoid-unrequested-mailsBfN.de

Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)
Vilm Office
18581 Putbus-Rügen
Alexander Liebschner
Tel.: +49 38301 86163
alexander.liebschner(at)avoid-unrequested-mailsBfN.de

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