Trends of noise generating man-made pressures in the marine environment
Article by Dr. Aristides Prospathopoulos, HCMR
In the next twenty years the marine world is expected to experience major changes due to the rise of emerging countries, new consumer classes and resource demand.
The demand for oil and gas is continuously rising, especially from emerging economies, leading to increased oil and gas exploration and production activities. The retreat of the Arctic ice opens up new opportunities for oil and gas exploration, as well as new shipping routes.
It is estimated that $100 billion will be invested in the exploration and extraction of oil and gas in the Arctic, including Greenland, over the next decade. Even in semi-closed basins as Eastern Mediterranean, which hosts a very sensitive marine ecosystem, the exploration for and exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits is a crucial issue for several of the surrounding countries.
Floating platforms in the Oceans
According to the Global Marine Trends (GMT) 2030 Project Team, the world oil consumption is expected to be increased from 27% to 50%, while the natural gas consumption from 70% to 100% by 2030. In 2004, 34% of worldwide oil production occurred offshore. This is expected to increase to 48% by 2030. From 270 floating platforms in 2010, 618 are foreseen in 2030.
Picture: Platform Holly, about 3 km offshore in state waters 34.3898°N 119.9065°W., Southern California. / Source: Public domain
Also, the ocean is the highway for international trade, with 90% being seaborne. Trade of crude oil and product oil, LNG, coal, iron ore, grain and containers will increase considerably as well as the total tonnage and vessel numbers for all major ship types. The total tonnage of tankers is expected to grow 1.7-1.8 times, while that of bulk carriers, containerships and LNG is expected to grow between 1.8 and 3 times over the next two decades.
Picture: Sea-born trade via a cargo vessel / Source: Pixabay
Offshore windfarms in the Ocean
As regards the energy sector, 100 times more offshore wind turbines are expected in 2030: more than 65,000 wind turbines are required to provide more than 226 GW of wind capacity. According to the new central scenario of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), 66 GW of offshore wind energy capacity are expected to be installed in the EU in 2030. The over 11,000 offshore wind turbines installed in the sea will be distributed as 68% in the North Sea, 20% in the Atlantic and 12% in the Baltic Sea. Furthermore, the predicted number of wave energy devices in 2030 is 22,000.
Picture: Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, England / Source: Havvindparken Sheringham Shoal (Foto: Harald Pettersen/Statoil)
Which will be the noise increase from the above activities in the ocean soundscapes in the next 20 years and which will be the consequences for the sea life?
Researchers, international / regional agencies, commissions and organizations related to marine environmental protection, and decision makers have a lot of work to do as individual teams but mainly in a synergistic mode before it is too late!