Acoustic signal and noise changes in the Beaufort Sea Pacific Water duct under anticipated future acidification of Arctic Ocean waters

It is predicted that Arctic Ocean acidity will increase during the next century as a result of carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere and migration into ocean waters. This change has implications for sound transmission because low-pH seawater absorbs less sound than high-pH water. Altered pH will affect sound in the 0.3−10 kHz range if the criterion is met that absorption is the primary cause of attenuation, rather than the alternatives of loss in the ice or seabed. Recent work has exploited sound that meets the criterion, sound trapped in a Beaufort Sea duct composed of Pacific Winter Water underlying Pacific Summer Water. Arctic pH is expected to drop from 8.1 to 7.9 (approximately) over the next 30−50 yr, and effects of this chemical alteration on the intensity levels of this ducted sound, and on noise, are examined here. Sound near 900 Hz is predicted to undergo the greatest change, traveling up to 38% further. At ranges of 100−300 km, sound levels from a source in the duct may increase by 7 dB or more. Noise would also increase, but noise is ducted less efficiently, with the result that 1 kHz noise is predicted to rise approximately 0.5 dB.

Duda T. F., 2017. Acoustic signal and noise changes in the Beaufort Sea Pacific Water duct under anticipated future acidification of Arctic Ocean waters. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 142: 1926. doi: 10.1121/1.5006184. Article (subscription required).

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