This year, AGU 2021 is being held from 13 – 17 December 2021 at New Orleans, Los Angeles and virtually. Motivated by the fun and learnings from my previous research on impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on seismic vibrations in Canadian cities (see the webapp: http://www.MonitorMyLockdown.com which showcases my research) I decided to expand my research to global oceans and showcase the research plans and preliminary findings at the AGU 2021.
Low-frequency sound from maritime shipping is a major source of ambient underwater noise in global oceans and a threat to marine life. Increase in global trade, 80% of which by volume, occurs through ocean tankers and container ships, means that underwater noise levels are increasing. As seasonal ice disappears because of climate change and new year-round shipping routes open, ambient and peak intensity sound levels in oceans are bound to increase.
Anthropogenic noise is an acoustic pollutant. In the darkness of the oceans, marine life has evolved to use acoustic cues to find food, reproduce, navigate, and avoid predators. Baleen whales, for instance, use low frequencies (10Hz – 10kHz) for long-range communication. Unfortunately, low-frequency sounds (20Hz – 200Hz) radiated by propellers, thrusters, and machinery of over 50,000 commercial vessels traversing the oceans at any given time overlaps with the frequency band used by marine life such as fish, whales, and porpoises.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 brought an unexpected ‘anthropause.’ Border closures, travel restrictions, and economic slowdown meant a temporary hiatus in commercial shipping, offshore energy exploration activities, and ocean tourism. The disruptions in marine traffic actually led scientists to dub 2020 the ‘Year of the Quiet Ocean.’
It provides a rare research opportunity to investigate the time-series relationship between anthropogenic activities and ambient noise levels in oceans. I decided to undertake this research to – measure the impact of COVID-19 related restrictions on underwater ambient noise levels in global oceans, The outcomes of the research would improve our understanding of global oceans and come up with ways to mitigate the adverse impacts of economic exploitation of oceans and climate change on marine biodiversity.
About AGU: AGU is the leading forum for advancing Earth and space science and its fall meeting brings together 25000 attendees from over100 countries.
Gold Medal, Canada Wide Science Fair 2022. RISE 100 Global Winner, Silver Medal, International Science and Engineering Fair 2022, Gold Medal, Canada Wide Science Fair 2021, NASA SpaceApps Global 2020, Gold Medalist – IRIC North American Science Fair 2020, BMT Global Home STEM Challenge 2020. Micro:bit Challenge North America Runners Up 2020. NASA SpaceApps Toronto 2019, 2018, 2017, 2014. Imagining the Skies Award 2019. Jesse Ketchum Astronomy Award 2018. Hon. Mention at 2019 NASA Planetary Defense Conference. Emerald Code Grand Prize 2018. Canadian Space Apps 2017.