Sonar, ships and geologic exploration are making more noise in the ocean. Sound travels thousands of times farther than light in water, and many marine animals rely on sound for navigating, hunting, mating and keeping the family together.
Change in the movement of sound could cause havoc among animals that have evolved for millions of years in a stable sound environment, and so we were disturbed to read that ocean noise is likely to intensify over the next few decades. The cause? A rise in acidity, due to greater absorption of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
A study published last month suggested that sound will travel 70 percent further by year 2050.
Scientists are already worried that ocean acidification will eat away the shells of plankton and shellfish, but no comprehensive studies have documented any changes in sound transmission through the ocean. Instead, Keith Hester, a post-doctoral fellow at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, rested his forecast on the basic physics of sound in salt water.
David Tenenbaum, The Why Files, 13 November 2008. Full Article.