Best Practices for Baseline Passive Acoustic Monitoring of Offshore Wind Development

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Baseline data are critical to assess potential disturbances to the environment. In the absence of baseline data, it is impossible to accurately quantify anthropogenic impacts. Instances in which baseline data were not collected have left critical gaps in knowledge for researchers and environmental managers attempting to comprehend impacts to the environment and mitigate those impacts.

The anticipated proliferation of offshore wind energy projects in the United States represents both a critical data need and an opportunity to apply the lessons of the past. Offshore wind projects are expected to increase significantly in number and magnitude, amplifying their potential impact on the marine environment. This impact can only be accurately measured if the environment is characterized prior to wind farm development, so it can be compared to data collected during construction and operational phases.

Data collection can be particularly challenging in the marine environment. Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) provides a useful way to track long-term trends in natural biological and human activities at sea because many of these processes and animal behaviors are accompanied by, or depend upon, sound. Thus PAM provides a unique opportunity to track noise levels, biological activities, and to characterize the local marine soundscape before, during and after wind farm development.

This Masters project points to research demonstrating the utility of baseline data collection and reviews the current literature related to the use of baseline PAM at offshore wind projects. Methods for accommodating the limitations of PAM are addressed and best practices are suggested for the use of passive acoustics to effectively characterize the marine environment in relation to future offshore wind development.





Carduner, Jordan (2013). Best Practices for Baseline Passive Acoustic Monitoring of Offshore Wind Development. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.