skip to main content


Title: Characterizing large river sounds: Providing context for understanding the environmental effects of noise produced by hydrokinetic turbines

Underwaternoise associated with the installation and operation of hydrokinetic turbines in rivers and tidal zones presents a potential environmental concern for fish and marine mammals. Comparing the spectral quality of sounds emitted by hydrokinetic turbines to natural and other anthropogenic sound sources is an initial step at understanding potential environmental impacts. Underwater recordings were obtained from passing vessels and natural underwater sound sources in static and flowing waters. Static water measurements were taken in a lake with minimal background noise. Flowing water measurements were taken at a previously proposed deployment site for hydrokinetic turbines on the Mississippi River, where sounds created by flowing water are part of all measurements, both natural ambient and anthropogenic sources. Vessel sizes ranged from a small fishing boat with 60 hp outboard motor to an 18-unit barge train being pushed upstream by tugboat. As expected, large vessels with large engines created the highest sound levels, which were, on average, 40 dB greater than the sound created by an operating hydrokinetic turbine. As a result, a comparison of sound levels from the same sources at different distances using both spherical and cylindrical sound attenuation functions suggests that spherical model results more closely approximate observed sound attenuation.
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  2. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  3. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Univ. of Maine, Orono, ME (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 139; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 0001-4966
Acoustical Society of America
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; agroacoustics; marine vessels; rivers; sound pressure; underwater sound
OSTI Identifier: