Underwater Ambient Noise at a Proposed Tidal Energy Site in Puget Sound


Title: Underwater Ambient Noise at a Proposed Tidal Energy Site in Puget Sound
Authors: Bassett, C.
Publication Date:
January 01, 2010
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Academic Department: Mechanical Engineering
Pages: 58
Technology Type:

Document Access

Website: External Link


Bassett, C. (2010). Underwater Ambient Noise at a Proposed Tidal Energy Site in Puget Sound. Master's Thesis, University of Washington.

Ambient underwater acoustics data are presented for one-year at a potential tidal energy site in Admiralty Inlet, Washington, USA with maximum currents exceeding 3 m/s. The site, at a depth of approximately 60 meters, is located near shipping lanes, a local ferry route, and a transit area for many cetacean species. A key finding is that non-propogating turbulent pressure fluctuations, termed pseudosound, can mask ambient noise, especially in highly energetic environments suitable for tidal energy development. A statistical method identifies periods during which changes in the mode and standard deviation of the one-third octave band sound pressure levels are statistically significant and thus suggestive of pseudosound contamination. For each deployment, recordings with depth averaged tidal currents below this threshold are used in the subsequent ambient noise analysis. Mean total sound pressure levels (0.16-30 kHz) over all recordings are 117 dB re 1μPa.


Commercial shipping and ferry vessel traffic are found to be the most significant contributor to ambient noise levels at the site, with secondary contributions from rain, wind, and marine mammal vocalizations. Post-processed data from an AIS (Automatic Identification System) receiver is used to determine the location of ships during each recording. Referencing 368 individual recordings with the distance between the ferry and the site obtained from AIS data, the source level of the ferry is estimated to be 179 ± 4 dB re 1μPa at 1m with a logarithmic spreading loss coefficient of 18.

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