How Do the Natural Sounds of the Ocean Compare to Those Created by Offshore Wind?

This question was supplied by the ‘Ask the Experts’ database managers.

Reviewed by: Dr. James Miller

Last Update: July 29th, 2020

The Ask the Experts database managers conducted an interview with Dr. James Miller (Department of Ocean Engineering & Graduate School of Oceanography) to summarize the findings of multiple URI studies that have set out to monitor and minimize the effects that the construction of the Block Island Wind Farm has had on marine mammals.

Dr. Miller explains that the construction of offshore wind turbines produces very loud sounds. He notes that impact pile driving, one of the processes that occur during construction which is typically used to secure the structures into the seabed, is like taking a hammer and smacking a pipe into the ground. These sounds that are associated with pile driving can travel hundreds of miles in the ocean. 

The construction process is loud but it is finite and able to be calculated in advance. The more difficult task is monitoring the noise that originates from offshore wind operations. These sounds are ongoing and last the entirety of a turbine’s operational life. 

So, the question that continues to be asked and studied upon is—what are the long term effects?

Explore Dr. Miller’s Work