The UPC investigates noise pollution in the oceans from Antarctica

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The Laboratory of Applied Bioacoustics (LAB) is leading a scientific expedition to the Antarctic to deploy permanent acoustic sensors that will be used to monitor the impact of climate change and human activities on polar ecosystems.

LAB researchers will gather the first measurements on the acoustic state of the ocean from this point of the planet and will test the installation of permanent noise monitoring stations to assess the impact of climate change on Antarctic biodiversity.  Every day, over 50,000 cargo ships that travel by sea and other activities increase noise in the oceans.

The location in the Antarctic area means that key data can be obtained on the state of conservation of this environment before human activities invade it. The data that are gathered will help us to understand more about the state of almost zero contamination; a situation that we are now far from in the rest of the world. Hence, when the Austral Ocean is opened up to human activities due to the melting of the polar ice cap, and therefore noise pollution reaches this area, we will know the vital state of its marine organisms and will be able to implement measures to conserve wildlife.

Hydrophone technology will be used (microphones and sensors adapted to the water that can record audible sounds as well as infra- and ultrasounds from any biological source or generated by human activities) and computers that use artificial intelligence techniques. Once the equipment has been installed in Antarctica, the data that are gathered will be processed and analysed in the LAB. This laboratory has sensors in almost all oceans. Now, Antarctica will be a new point on the map that can be studied. In 2018, the same laboratory installed an observatory in the Amazon, along with other researchers from Brazil and Australia.