Ambient infrasonic noise

Do sea birds use low-frequency acoustics to navigate over the open ocean?

This research project will focus on the characterization of the global infrasonic noise field. Knowledge of the ambient acoustic noise field in the atmosphere and oceans is of importance for successfully verifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty with infrasound measurements.

One of the goals of this project is to apply such knowledge to study the navigation of birds over the open ocean. The project is a collaboration of an international team of researchers in the field of ecology, physiology, spatial modeling and geophysics and is funded by a Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Research Grant.

During the project, research at KNMI will focus on:

  • the characterization of the acoustic wavefield at sea, by analyzing data from atmospheric infrasound and hydrophone arrays as well as low-frequency microphones deployed on land and in the air
  • the simulation of 'infrasoundscapes', 4D acoustic wavefield by applying existing knowledge of ambient noise source modeling with propagation modeling.
  • investigating the influence of meteorological conditions, by analyzing numerical weather prediction models and meteorological sensors


A simulated ‘infrasoundscape’ from ocean waves, locations of a wandering albatross on 25 February 2013 and sites of CTBTO atmospheric infrasound and hydroacoustics facilities