Baltic Soundscape Map

Baltic Backdrop

Baltic Backdrop

Research, scheduled to last until the end of the year, will provide data for drawing up a noise map of the Baltic Sea. Information is being gathered by 40 probes situated at various points in the Baltic Basin. “Since the end of WWII the level of noise in our seas and oceans has increased manifold. Meanwhile, the organisms living in our seas are extremely sensitive to noise, and sound propagates underwater much farther and with greater force than in the air,” says Jarosław Tęgowski of the Department of Marine Geology at the University of Gdańsk. Scientists from six countries, including Poland, intend to protect sea creatures from the effects of underwater noise pollution. Four to ten probes per country are placed along the coastline of Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Germany, Estonia and Finland. Poland has five. They are located at depths of ten and ninety metres and are positioned to collect as complete data as possible. The devices began working on 1 January and will remain active until 31 December, therefore the recorded data will show how noise levels change throughout the year. In parallel, the researchers are also collecting information on the type, size and speed of ships on the Baltic Sea since marine traffic is the principal source of underwater noise. The development of the map and software for the calculation of underwater noise levels will continue until mid-2016. The tools will then be used for environmental protection purposes. “It is important given that limited visibility in murky water caused numerous sea creatures to develop in the course of their evolution the ability to use sounds to locate objects, notably to find food. Manmade noise disorientates them, sometimes depriving them of food. The international project is called the Baltic Sea Information on Acoustic Soundscape (BIAS). It is co-financed by the European Union and in Poland also by the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.

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