Tag Archive: oceans

Humans are changing the underwater soundscapes


Photo credit: AWeith licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

of the world’s oceans. Catherine Rice, Nature World News, reports on how climate change is affecting the world’s oceans. Rice introduces us Kate Stafford, an oceanographer who studies the underwater soundscapes and migratory patterns and geographic variation of marine mammals. Using the Arctic Ocean as an example, Stafford discusses “how climate change is changing the sonic landscape of oceans” and how “human impact on climate could have unknown consequences for marine life which rely on listening to sounds in the ocean for survival.”

Long and short, as sea ice melts it “screeches and cracks and pops and groans, as it collides and rubs when temperature or currents or winds change.” So more melting means more noise. And as the sea ice melts, humans are encouraged “to use bigger ships more frequently” in parts of the Arctic Ocean that previously were not very navigable, which introduces even more loud noise into the soundscape. “Due to warmer waters and less sea ice, Stafford and [other] scientists are seeing other species of whales and mammals moving further north,” which could set up an ugly competition for food.

Rice concludes that “there are still many unanswered questions about the impact of human-induced climate change on the soundscape of the world’s oceans, but it is clear that they are getting noisier.”

Link via @QuietMark.

The world sounds different than it did a century ago

and it’s not for a good reason. Claire Asher, BBC, reports on how climate change and animal extinctions have altered the way our world sounds.  Asher writes that human activity is changing our natural soundscape irreversibly:

In 2015, a US team of scientists and engineers reported that the loudest sound in some waters now comes from millions of tiny bubbles, which are released by melting glaciers and icebergs. In the fjords of Alaska and Antarctica, the average noise level is now over 100 decibels – louder than any ocean environment recorded before.

And it is more than our oceans that are affected.  Asher notes that “natural spaces are now polluted with human-made noises. As we change forests into farms and drive species to extinction, we are fundamentally changing how our world sounds.”

Click the first link to read this interesting, if depressing, article.

Link via @jeaninebotta.