The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Ocean Noise Reference Station (NRS) Network was established in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) to document baseline levels and multi-year trends in ocean ambient sound in 12 discrete environments throughout the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Using time-series data collected within four National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS), two National Parks, and six other habitats throughout the U.S. EEZ, the NRS network provides data to compare long-term changes and trends in the low-frequency underwater ambient sound field. Monitoring these biological areas of interest is of high importance; these environments are home to a variety of endangered marine animals but are at the same time exposed to increased human use including recreational/commercial shipping and fishing as well as renewable energy efforts. Establishment and continuation of the NRS Network has been funded by the NMFS Ocean Acoustics Program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (OAR), the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (NOS), all NMFS Science Centers, and the National Park Service. See https://www.pmel.noaa.gov/acoustics/noaanps-ocean-noise-reference-station-network.
IQOE is past the mid-point in implementation of its Science Plan (available here) and has successfully coordinated a variety of activities in ocean acoustics and bioacoustics through IQOE working groups on the use of acoustics to assess biodiversity, the importance of acoustic observations in the Arctic Ocean, standards for reporting ocean acoustic and bioacoustic data for IQOE, software for making acoustic observations comparable worldwide, and recommendations for implementation of an Ocean Sound Essential Ocean Variable for the Global Ocean Observing System. IQOE progress has been documented since June 2018 through IQOE Newsletters and since the beginning of the project through other products. IQOE identified 2020 as the Year of the Quiet Ocean because of evidence that ocean sound decreased because of decreases in human activities in the ocean due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Activities in 2022 will include completion of the Ocean Sound Essential Ocean Variable Implementation Plan, initiation of new activities on low-cost ocean acoustic observing systems, launch of the Open Portal to Underwater Sound (OPUS), work on ocean acoustics for the UN Decade on Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and meetings of IQOE working groups and Science Committee.