Pacific Offshore Wind Environmental Research Recommendations

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The U.S. Offshore Wind Synthesis of Environmental Effects Research (SEER) effort compiled a database of research recommendations, from over 40 existing resources, that are relevant to the environmental effects of offshore wind energy development on the U.S. Pacific Coast (California, Oregon, and Washington). The SEER team then synthesized the over 500 individual research recommendations into roughly 50 broad overarching topics to provide an overview of what is included in the database. 

The database includes input from the SEER Pacific Research Recommendations Workshop held during May 3-5, 2022. The stakeholder workshop focused on preconstruction (baseline) research needs for potential floating offshore wind energy development on the U.S. Pacific Coast. The workshop covered three marine life breakout groups on subsequent days to discuss recommendations related to: 1) marine mammals and sea turtles, 2) fish and invertebrates, and 3) birds and bats. The final Workshop Report includes a summary of discussions and key takeaways from each breakout group.

The online tool below presents the synthesized research recommendations and provides links to relevant citations. Results can be refined by selecting from the drop-down menus or entering a search term. Synthesized research recommendations are ordered alphabetically. The order does not signify the importance or priority of each recommendation.

Download the complete database as a spreadsheet here.

Download the synthesized recommendations below as a spreadsheet here.

Research Recommendation Stressor/Topic Receptor Development Phase Citations
Examine potential cost offsetting of mitigation measures

Explore opportunities to offset curtailment shut-down costs including potential energy storage investments and ways to maximize energy generation during normal operations using wind farm control and wake steering.

Technology/ Methods Development Bats Operations & Maintenance Hein and Straw 2021
Examine role of OSW development in invasive species introduction and spread

Assess the role of OSW foundations and vessels in the settlement and dispersal of non-native/alien invasive species....Read more

Assess the role of OSW foundations and vessels in the settlement and dispersal of non-native/alien invasive species. Do OSW hard substrates act as ‘stepping-stones’ to non-native invasive species, facilitating their spread to new areas not previously available to them and leading to wider population expansion? Are these patterns of non-native invasive species similar between OSW areas and other disturbed areas/artificial structures?

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Habitat Change, Abundance and Distribution Benthos, Fishes, Invertebrates Pre-construction, Construction, Operations & Maintenance, Decommissioning Boon et al. 2018, Dannheim et al. 2020, Degraer et al. 2021, Fowler et al. 2020, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, WOZEP project team 2016
Examine sensitivity and response to EMF

Investigate which species can detect electromagnetic fields (EMF), what the sensing capabilities are, and how they respond to EMF.

Baseline, Electromagnetic Fields, Physiology and Energetics Benthos, Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine mammals, Sea turtles Construction, Operations & Maintenance Gulka and Williams 2020, WOZEP project team 2016
Examine spatio-temporal spawning patterns in relation to resiliency

Study the spawning behavior of subpopulations to understand the resilience of an overall population

Baseline, Movement and Behavior, Population Dynamics Benthos, Birds, Fishes Pre-construction Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021
Examine study design effectiveness at answering question

Conduct power analyses and comprehensive review of existing data to examine sample size needed and other key aspects of study design to detect effects from OSW development....Read more

Conduct power analyses and comprehensive review of existing data to examine sample size needed and other key aspects of study design to detect effects from OSW development. Key consideration needs to be whether the study design has sufficient power to detect change between the pre- and post-construction periods.

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Technology/ Methods Development Birds, Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine mammals, Sea turtles Cook et al. 2018, Di Franco et al. 2020, Kraus et al. 2019, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021
Examine the effects of wind farms on suspended particulate matter

Model the effects of OSW farms on tide, currents, waves, bed shear stress and mixing on SPM concentrations, including horizontal transport, SPM settling, remixing and resuspension at a range of spatial scales

Oceanographic/Atmospheric Change Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes Boon et al. 2018
Examine the influence of habitat changes on predator distributions

Examine potential barrier effects on animal migrations and/or larval dispersal, as well as new habitat creation effects (e.g., reef effects), via changes in the foraging distributions of higher trophic level species including seabirds, sea turtles, and seals.

Habitat Change, Abundance and Distribution Birds, Marine mammals, Sea turtles Pre-construction, Construction, Operations & Maintenance Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) 2022, Gitschlag et al. 2021, Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland 2019
Examine the relationship between exposure and collision risk

Determine the relationship between exposure and collision risk.

Turbine collision Bats, Birds Operations & Maintenance New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) 2020
Examine whether artificial substrate affects distributions and biomass

Explore whether the presence of OSW foundations affects species distribution, density, and biomass, taking into account influences of flows around turbine piles, changes in fishing patterns, and fixed versus floating foundation types.

Habitat Change, Abundance and Distribution Benthos, Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes, Fishes Operations & Maintenance, Decommissioning Fowler et al. 2020, Gulka and Williams 2020, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, WOZEP project team 2016
Explore impact levels, feasibility and cost of different mitigation approaches

Conduct cost-benefits analyses and feasibility studies of mitigation options for collisions and noise abatement and understand disturbance levels of different cable installation tools and how they can be used appropriately in different environments to mitigate disturbance where possible.

Technology/ Methods Development Bats, Benthos, Birds, Fishes, Invertebrates Construction, Operations & Maintenance Cook et al. 2021, Gulka and Williams 2020, Hein et al. 2021, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, Popper et al. 2021
Explore OSW areas as additional settlement habitat

Assess the relative amounts of specific hard substrate habitat types (e.g., deep reef) provided by OSW facilities and the opportunities for substrate-dependent populations and life history stages

Habitat Change Benthos, Fishes Operations & Maintenance, Decommissioning Degraer et al. 2021, Fowler et al. 2020
Explore technology integration on OSW infrastructure

Develop guidance around coordination with turbine manufacturers and wind energy operators and key constraints (e.g., placement options, remote communication, power) for technology installation on turbine structures for monitoring bats at OSW farms.

Technology/ Methods Development Bats Operations & Maintenance Hein et al. 2021
Facilitate citizen science

Expand use and participation of public contributions to data collection including reporting of stranded/entangled species

Technology/ Methods Development Bats, Birds, Marine mammals, Sea turtles Pre-construction, Operations & Maintenance Bonacci-Sullivan 2018, Brodie et al. 2021
Identify areas of high ecological importance

Identify habitats and areas of high ecological importance and benthic productivity.

Baseline, Habitat Change Benthos Pre-construction Degraer et al. 2021
Identify baseline abundance and distribution of prey

Identify baseline distribution and abundance of prey resources to inform our understanding of spatial patterns of higher trophic level species.

Baseline, Abundance and Distribution, Diet and Food Web Dynamics Bats, Birds, Fishes Pre-construction Cook et al. 2021, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) 2020
Identify focal taxa for research

Identify key species or groups of species to focus research based on commercial and conservation value, relevance, representativeness, suitability for existing methodologies, and those lacking in knowledge/previous focus.

Technology/ Methods Development Benthos, Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine mammals Pre-construction, Construction, Operations & Maintenance, Decommissioning Degraer et al. 2021, Di Franco et al. 2020, Kraus et al. 2019, Popper et al. 2021, WOZEP project team 2016
Identify industry barriers to mitigation adoption

Examine industry implementation of bat curtailment strategies and potential barriers to adoption.

Technology/ Methods Development Bats Operations & Maintenance Hein and Straw 2021
Identify location and use of spawning grounds

Develop better understanding of spawning behavior and locations near OSW area to establish a baseline

Baseline, Movement and Behavior Fishes, Invertebrates Pre-construction Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, Petruny-Parker et al. 2015
Identify physiological characteristics contributing to sound-related response

Explore biological variables/mechanisms such as the bio-physiological mechanisms triggering the observed behavioral responses, physiological variables potentially effected by sound-related stress, and intra-specific differences in responses.

Noise, Physiology and Energetics Fishes, Invertebrates Construction Di Franco et al. 2020
Improve marine mammal detection efficiency

Investigate methods to improve detection of marine mammals to better mitigate impacts of sound

Technology/ Methods Development, Noise Marine mammals Construction Gulka and Williams 2020
Improve modeling of wake effects

Develop and validate models that accurately unify aerodynamic, hydrodynamic, and aeroelastic physics....Read more

Develop and validate models that accurately unify aerodynamic, hydrodynamic, and aeroelastic physics. This could include combined atmospheric and wave modelling on different spatial scales which can be achieved by coupling atmospheric mesoscale, Large Eddy Simulation and spectral wave models to improve our understanding of wake effects. This includes both fixed bottom and floating OSW turbines.

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Technology/ Methods Development, Oceanographic/Atmospheric Change Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes Boon et al. 2018, Micallef and Rezaeiha 2021
Improve sampling coverage

Improve sampling coverage for monitoring at-sea bat activity and sampling of early stages of fish and squid.

Technology/ Methods Development Bats, Fishes, Invertebrates Construction, Operations & Maintenance Degraer et al. 2016, Lagerveld et al. 2017
Improve tracking technology

Develop new tagging technologies that are longer-lasting, improve sampling abilities across seasons, and allow for tracking of underrepresented subsets of populations, such as juveniles....Read more

Develop new tagging technologies that are longer-lasting, improve sampling abilities across seasons, and allow for tracking of underrepresented subsets of populations, such as juveniles. This could also include a strategic assessment of existing technologies and how these can best be used, combined, or improved to assess movement of populations and answer key questions related to impacts from OSW development.

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Technology/ Methods Development, Movement and Behavior Birds, Marine mammals Gulka and Williams 2020, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021
Improve understanding of acoustic sensing abilities

Investigate detection of sound pressure, particle motion, and vibration, including bandwidth, thresholds, and sensitivity of detection, and incidence of permanent threshold shifts

Baseline, Physiology and Energetics Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine mammals, Sea turtles Construction, Operations & Maintenance Gitschlag et al. 2021, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, Popper et al. 2021
Improve understanding of trophic interactions

Strengthen knowledge of the food web and its functioning and identify the main linkages through which indirect effects may occur.

Baseline, Diet and Food Web Dynamics Benthos, Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes, Fishes, Invertebrates Pre-construction, Operations & Maintenance Piet et al. 2021
Improve understanding of uncertainty in models

Assess sensitivity of various parameters and sources of uncertainty in various models, including collision risk models, Population Viability Analyses, Individual Based Models, and potential covariance between parameters.

Technology/ Methods Development Birds Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, WOZEP project team 2016
Incorporate climate/environmental change into predictive modeling

Incorporate climate/environmental change into predictive models including population models, forecasting, and decommissioning scenarios to improve predictions, assessments, and understanding of cause and effect mechanisms.

Technology/ Methods Development, Ecological Drivers Birds, Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes Decommissioning Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021
Incorporate gradient study design methodologies for effect detection

Incorporate the use of gradient design into physical and chemical monitoring to help account for the dynamic nature of marine systems and the difficulty in choosing a representative control site.

Technology/ Methods Development Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes Pre-construction, Operations & Maintenance Brodie et al. 2021
Incorporate long-term OSW studies into marine spatial planning

Incorporate long term change and large-scale effects of OSW on the environment into marine spatial planning research.

Technology/ Methods Development Bats, Benthos, Birds, Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes, Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine mammals, Sea turtles Pre-construction, Operations & Maintenance Piet et al. 2021
Integrate hotspot mapping into inform OSW siting

Develop seabird hotspot maps by integrating data from various sources (e.g., surveys, tracking) that can be used for various marine spatial planning purposes including OSW siting to integrate avian conservation into research, management, and planning.

Technology/ Methods Development, Abundance and Distribution Birds Abercrombie and Chytalo 2017
Investigate degree of long-term habituation to OSW structures

Monitor levels of displacement from OSW facilities, including distance at which displacement occurs and degree to which it occurs (e.g., proportion of individuals displaced), and how these metrics change over time with potential habituation.

Displacement Birds Construction, Operations & Maintenance Gulka and Williams 2020, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, van Kooten et al. 2018
Investigate influence of infrastructure design on ecology

Examine how design and materials used for foundations and cable and scour protection affect growth, diversity, and ecosystem functions and services, with a focus on species of conservation priority. Determine the degree to which nature-based design can be used as an effective mitigation tool.

Technology/ Methods Development, Habitat Change Benthos, Birds, Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes, Fishes, Invertebrates Pre-construction, Construction, Operations & Maintenance Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) 2022, Degraer et al. 2021, Glarou et al. 2020, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) 2015, WOZEP project team 2016
Investigate injury/mortality from EMF

Assess whether EMF can cause mortality or serious injury to protected resources.

Electromagnetic Fields Fishes, Marine mammals Construction, Operations & Maintenance Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) 2021
Investigate injury/mortality from noise and vibration

Better understand injurious responses to and mortality from OSW sound, including both construction and operations.

Noise Benthos, Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine mammals Construction, Operations & Maintenance Degraer et al. 2019, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, Kraus et al. 2019, Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) 2021
Investigate secondary entanglement at floating OSW farms

Explore potential for direct entanglement with the sub-sea structure of floating OSW farms (e.g., mooring lines) or for secondary entanglement where derelict fishing gear/marine litter may attach to the sub-sea structures and consequently entangle animals

Entanglement Fishes, Marine mammals Construction, Operations & Maintenance Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) 2021
Investigate the potential to model Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS) growth

Investigate the potential to model Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS) growth, which may be a better way to estimate how much noise an animal accumulates over time, than is currently done by modelling Sound Exposure Levels of multiple impulsive sounds (SELcum).

Technology/ Methods Development, Noise Marine mammals Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021
Investigate tradeoffs of decommissioning strategies

Investigate the tradeoffs of foundation removal and other decommissioning strategies in terms of impacts to biodiversity, fisheries, regional habitat availability, and other considerations. Use investigations on decommissioning in an adaptive management framework.

Habitat Change Bats, Benthos, Birds, Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes, Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine mammals, Sea turtles Decommissioning Fowler et al. 2020, Gulka and Williams 2020, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021
Investigate whether OSW development increases carbon storage capacity of sediment

Explore whether the exclusion of bottom trawling in (part of) OSW farms and the locally increased levels of organic matter deposition may restore the seafloor's original carbon storage function, and if so to what degree

Oceanographic/Atmospheric Change Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes Construction, Operations & Maintenance, Decommissioning Degraer et al. 2021
Make all ecological data publicly available/accessible

Make all data publicly available, including data collected for Environmental Impact Assessments and post-construction monitoring to aid in the assessment of broad-scale questions, ecosystem-level research, and potential cumulative impacts.

Data Management Bats, Benthos, Birds, Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes, Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine mammals, Sea turtles Pre-construction, Construction, Operations & Maintenance Hein et al. 2021, Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland 2019
Measure EMF at subsea cables

Fill knowledge gap in accurate, observed and repeated EMF measurements from subsea cables at different OSW energy projects

Electromagnetic Fields Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes Operations & Maintenance Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021
Measure the effects of EMF response on energetics

Assess energetic costs of behavioral responses to EMF including changes in movement and predator-prey interactions.

Electromagnetic Fields, Physiology and Energetics Benthos, Fishes, Invertebrates Construction, Operations & Maintenance Degraer et al. 2021, Gulka and Williams 2020
Measure the effects of underwater sound on energetics

Determine how underwater noise affects marine mammal energetics.

Noise, Physiology and Energetics Marine mammals WOZEP project team 2016
Monitor occurrence of non-native or invasive species prior to wind farm construction

Assess and try to predict whether invasive species will occur at some OSW farms

Baseline, Abundance and Distribution Benthos, Invertebrates Operations & Maintenance Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries 2018
Monitor primary productivity

Monitor primary productivity and its relationship to physical and chemical parameters.

Baseline, Diet and Food Web Dynamics Bats, Birds, Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes, Fishes, Marine mammals, Sea turtles Pre-construction, Operations & Maintenance Brodie et al. 2021, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) 2015
Quantify collision mortality at OSW farms

Quantify mortality of aerofauna at OSW facilities via empirical data collection and determine whether mortality rates are high enough to be a regulatory or conservation concern for any species.

Turbine collision Bats, Birds Pre-construction, Operations & Maintenance Gulka and Williams 2020, Hein et al. 2021, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) 2020, WOZEP project team 2016
Review existing mitigation technologies and methods

Identify the technology readiness level and validation status of technologies for mitigation of wildlife, including those focused on reducing and attenuating turbine construction noise

Technology/ Methods Development Bats, Benthos, Birds, Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes, Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine mammals, Sea turtles Construction, Operations & Maintenance Gulka 2020, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) 2015
Standardize data collection, QA/QC, and reporting

Develop standardized data collection for OSW-related studies including those related to benthic data, acoustic data, marine radar, tracking, Environmental Impact Assessments, and post-construction monitoring....Read more

Develop standardized data collection for OSW-related studies including those related to benthic data, acoustic data, marine radar, tracking, Environmental Impact Assessments, and post-construction monitoring. Consistent data collection, combined with QA/QC and reporting standards will ensure the collection of high-quality data that data can be aggregated for larger-scale analyses.

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Data Management Bats, Benthos, Birds, Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes, Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine mammals, Sea turtles Pre-construction, Construction, Operations & Maintenance, Decommissioning Cook et al. 2021, Degraer et al. 2021, Hein and Straw 2021, Hein et al. 2021, Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland 2019, Popper et al. 2021, Wildlife Conservation Society 2021
Standardize feather sampling for seabird tracking studies

Understand how seabird foraging movements, migration patterns, and molting locations vary by sex to help inform population-level impacts....Read more

Understand how seabird foraging movements, migration patterns, and molting locations vary by sex to help inform population-level impacts. All tagging projects conducted on seabird species should include feather sampling at time of tagging (and tag retrieval if tag is retrieved) to allow for molecular sexing of individuals and linking of sex information to movement data. Feather samples can also be used for stable isotope analysis to provide extra information on foraging locations and diet.

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Technology/ Methods Development Birds Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021
Study displacement/attraction to OSW facilities

Determine how the spatiotemporal patterns of abundance and distribution of animals changes in response to OSW farms, including displacement rates and displacement distance, and how these shifts may affect population connectivity....Read more

Determine how the spatiotemporal patterns of abundance and distribution of animals changes in response to OSW farms, including displacement rates and displacement distance, and how these shifts may affect population connectivity. Study must include sufficient spatiotemporal scale and explicit incorporation of environmental covariates to have the power to detect whether changes are due to OSW development or other factors.

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Displacement, Population Dynamics Bats, Benthos, Birds, Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine mammals, Sea turtles Pre-construction, Construction, Operations & Maintenance, Decommissioning Degraer et al. 2021, Fowler et al. 2020, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, Kraus et al. 2019, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Office of Science 2021, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) 2015, Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland 2019, WOZEP project team 2016, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) 2020
Study relationship between body mass and survival

Use existing body mass and survival data to better establish this relationship. Effects during the breeding season may manifest themselves in overwinter survival. This relationship has/ can be used in estimation of impacts.

Baseline, Population Dynamics Birds Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021