Arctic - The Disappearance of Arctic Sea Ice in the Bering Strait due to Climate Change Could Lead to Increased Ocean Noise
The Bering Strait is a vital migration route for numerous marine species. Scientists examining levels of ocean noise in the area have confirmed that the presence of sea ice plays a central role in the soundscape of these Arctic waters.
Arctic species such as bowhead whales, belugas, walrus, bearded seals and ribbon seals are seasonally present in and travel through the waters around St. Lawrence Island and the Bering Strait.
The team found that the increasing periods of open, ice-free water in the Arctic correlate with an increase of non-biological ambient noises, both from surface waves driven by wind and an increase in vessel traffic.
“The study examines one of the world’s most important migratory corridors for marine mammals that is currently undergoing significant changes due to a warming climate,” said lead author Brandon Southall of Southall Environmental Associates, Inc (SEA Inc). “The timing and intensity of seasonal presence of sea ice are strongly linked to ambient noise in this important region, a connection that has major implications for protected marine mammal populations that depend on these habitats.”