What Sounds Are Associated With the Construction and Operation of Offshore Wind Farms & How Far Do These Sounds Travel?

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.

According to Miller’s fieldwork, there is a distinct difference in the level of noise generated from the construction and operation of offshore wind farms. The noise present during construction, which is primarily credited to impact pile driving, is very loud and can be detectable from 100 km (50-60 miles) away from the initial site. Alternatively, sounds generated by wind farms during their regular operations can only be heard by acoustic monitoring technologies that are much closer to the site. At the Block Island Wind Farm, operational noise was only able to be detected at a maximum distance of approximately 15 meters (less than 1 mile) off of the turbine sites.

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