Monitoring underwater noise at Kongsfjorden, Svalbard

Photo credit: Erwan Amice @CNRS 2020


INTAROS partners from CNRS IUEM headed back to Svalbard this summer to recover and redeploy acoustic and pressure equipment deployed almost one year ago close to Kongsfjordneset. These instruments measure the underwater noise in the region, providing insight into the impact of shipping noise and other sources of underwater sound to local wildlife.


Anthropogenic underwater noise has been a growing issue in Arctic waters with the decrease of sea ice covering because of global warming. Indeed, Arctic waters are opening to human activities such as resource exploration and exploitation, military exercises activity, pile driving for construction and all maritime shipping. Tourist-shipping activity has tripled in this region over the last decade. Underwater noise from these activities constitute an acoustic pollution that can affect marine wildlife.


INTAROS researchers assessed the soundscape of Kongsfjorden using an autonomous recorder deployed originally for three months in 2013 and then between 2017 and 2020. They measured sound levels through different sampling periods and compared those to the shipping activity in order to quantify potential disturbance to the local ecosystem.


The summer 2020 acoustic dataset is like no other, as it will allow comparing the ambient noise during the COVID-19 pandemic situation (and associated reduced tourist-shipping activity) with previous years.


You can check out a recent poster on this research here, or see presentations at the following events:

Underwater soundscape in Kongsfjorden within the context of increasing tourism boats. Delphine Mathias, Gaëtan Richard, Julien Bonnel, Erwan Amice and Laurent Chauvaud. Oral presentation at Sea Tech Week , Brest , France, October 12th , 2020.

Contribution of shipping noise in an Arctic underwater soundscape (Kongsfjorden, Svalbard). Gaëtan Richard, Delphine Mathias, Julien Bonnel, Erwan Amice and Laurent Chauvaud. Oral presentation at IQOE Virtual Conference on Arctic Ocean Acoustics, November 2020.


Picture of the acoustic equipment recovered on July 29th 2020 after a 10-month deployment. The
underwater visibility did not allow taking underwater pictures. Photo Credit : Laurent Chauvaud @CNRS 2020.



Kongsfjorden glacier as Laurent Chauvaud and Erwan Amice flew over Ny-Alesund on July 27th 2020. Photo credit: Erwan Amice @CNRS 2020.

14 October 2020