Dr Ursula Verfuss is presenting at the Conference on Wind Energy and Wildlife Impacts in Berlin, on Wednesday 11th March 2015.

Her  presentation is entitled:

Does noise mitigation matter? Population consequences of piling noise on marine mammals with and without the application of noise reduction methods.

Ursula K. Verfuss, Carol E. Sparling, Cormac G. Booth

The growth of the offshore wind industry has led to a wide scale construction of large offshore wind farms in European waters. As part of the construction process many wind turbine foundations are installed with impact pile driving hammers which generate significant underwater noise. These noise levels have the potential to impact marine mammals as a result of auditory injury and behavioural changes, including spatial displacement. Using noise reduction mitigation, for example, bubble curtains or coffer dams, is a way of reducing the amount of acoustic energy propagating through the water column, thereby reducing impacts. Noise reduction mitigation is often expensive and logistically difficult to achieve, therefore quantifying the potential to reduce impacts to marine mammals, both at an individual and population level, will be important to fully understand the positive benefit of such techniques. For demonstrating and quantifying the reduction in impact that could potentially be achieved, we used the interim Population Consequences of Disturbance (PCoD) model. The PCoD model uses the same stochastic population dynamic modelling approach as population viability analysis (PVA) coupled with expert opinion on the effects of disturbance on an animal’s vital rates where empirical data are lacking. It provides a rigorous, auditable and quantitative methodology, supported by the best available evidence, to assess the consequences of construction noise on a range of marine mammal populations in UK waters. We used this model to explore the population consequences of “real world” wind farm construction scenarios in UK and German waters, allowing a comparison of population level cumulative impacts with and without noise reduction techniques.