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BP003: Anthropogenic Noise in the Southern Ocean: an Update

ATCM XLII and CEP XXII 2019, Prague, Czech Republic

Background Paper

BP003: Anthropogenic Noise in the Southern Ocean: an Update

Submitted: 17 May 2019


This Background Paper supports WP 68 provided in response to a request from CEP XVII (2014) that SCAR update information on anthropogenic sound in the Southern Ocean since SCAR’s last update to ATCM XXXV-CEP XXV ( pdf Information Paper 21, 2012 (310 KB) ). Scientific knowledge regarding the effect of noise on marine wildlife continues to advance, based almost exclusively on studies outside the Antarctic region. Despite these advances in knowledge, the state-of-knowledge regarding the spatial and temporal distribution of sound sources, the real-world characteristics and distribution of anthropogenic noise and the environmental factors that determine its effects on receptor organisms and/or populations is judged by experts to be fair to good. How marine wildlife will respond to exposures to noise remains largely unknown with no information for many important species. While there is improved knowledge of the effects of noise on several cetacean species, there remains a lack of research on marine species endemic to Antarctica, including little knowledge of population level effects and variations in effects with life stage. Due to the lack of fundamental knowledge, current approaches to mitigation and management remain largely unverified as to effectiveness in avoiding and/or reducing detrimental effects. Expanded monitoring of natural/ambient and anthropogenic sound in Antarctic marine environments is needed to fully assess real-world noise exposure scenarios. While at an early stage, identification of “sound-sensitive” Antarctic species, potential “sound hotspots” in Antarctica and cumulative effects are beginning to emerge. Further studies of the responses of Antarctic species and populations to anthropogenic noise are essential to advancing evidence-based policies that are practicable while achieving conservation goals. A description of the process followed to produce this Background Paper and the WP 68 is provided in pdf CEP XXI Information Paper 28 (2018) (172 KB) .

This Background Paper supports pdf WP068: Anthropogenic Noise in the Southern Ocean - an Update (143 KB)


ATCM - Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting
CEP - Committee for Environmental Protection
42nd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting
1 - 11 July 2019