Studying the Impacts of Bio-enhancing Concrete on Sound Pollution in Vigo
Living Ports is partnering up with seasoned experts in the field of noise pollution to investigate monitoring techniques and potential solutions to the challenge of underwater noise.
Junio Fabrizio Borsani and Silvano Buogo, a duo that has been working together for the past 15 years, are working together to discover more about underwater noise and determine if concrete could be a sound barrier and absorb some of the underwater noise, thereby lessening the impact on local marine life. They are particularly interested in noise reduction around harbors, which tend to be "noise hot spots”.
Sound Pollution and Marine Life
Many marine creatures depend on sound for basic life functions, but the soundscape of the sea has changed dramatically in recent history. Research shows that man-made underwater sound is harmful to marine environments and is responsible for behavioral changes, injury, and in some cases death, of marine organisms. Public awareness of the consequences of sound pollution has increased and prompted action from regulatory bodies as well as private and NGO actors. For example, the EU adopted the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) in 2008, and included underwater sound (Descriptor 11) among eleven descriptors to define the environmental status of European marine waters.
That being said, there are many limitations in current knowledge of the challenge of man-made noise pollution. There remain significant knowledge gaps and before 2014, the EU had no standardized methodologies for monitoring.
Junio Fabrizio Borsani is an Italian zoologist with a specialization in underwater acoustics and has worked in the field for over 35 years. An expert in his own right, he combines his knowledge of zoology, ecology, and bio-acoustics with his experience with the Italian Navy submarine force. His latest work is on potential risks for marine environments derived from sound pollution from shipping, renewable energies, oil & gas, and coastal development. Silvano Buogo is an Italian Physicist with a specialization in underwater acoustics and metrology. He currently leads the activities of the calibration facility of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche – Istituto di Ingegneria del Mare INM in Rome, Italy.
Sound Monitoring for Living Ports
As subcontractors of ECOncrete, they will use the Port of Vigo as a research site. One of the big research questions involves the ability of developing marine life on ECOncrete’s bio-enhancing installations to impact local underwater noise. They will record the baseline soundscape at the port, then continuously monitor the sound next to ECOncrete’s sea wall installations in addition to a control site of a traditional Portland cement sea wall.
Junio remarks, "The research project with ECOncrete and the Living Ports project demonstrates innovation in the field of bio-acoustics. We are developing novel techniques in monitoring at the same time we are testing solutions. I anticipate results that will contribute to the wider cause of understanding and addressing man-made underwater noise."
So far, they have prepared equipment for monitoring and built a new instrumental setup that is designed to establish the true absorption capabilities of the ECOncrete wall. The equipment is calibrated and they have developed an analysis and deployment routine. They will soon head to Vigo to perform baseline monitoring and will continue to record data for the coming years.