U.S. Offshore Wind has formed a partnership with Rutgers, the State University
of New Jersey, the University of Rhode Island (URI), and Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution (WHOI) to launch the Ecosystem and Passive Acoustic Monitoring
It follows an initial memorandum of understanding with Rutgers University
in May 2019 to support academic research activities related to offshore
wind. The ECO-PAM project will be in addition to this initial funding agreement.
The company plans to apply the project’s discoveries to develop tailored
processes and procedures to better protect the North Atlantic right whale
during survey, construction and operation phases of its U.S. offshore wind
farm portfolio. The ECO-PAM project will ensure the company can act to
solve the global climate crisis, while preserving local ecosystems.
The goal of the partnership is to better understand the habitat as well
as the presence, distribution and seasonality of the endangered North Atlantic
right whale within Ørsted lease areas. A secondary and added benefit of
the partnership will enable coastal communities to utilize the oceanographic
data gathered to help with weather forecasting and predicting severe storms.
“This unique project unites business and academia, allowing some of the
greatest minds to work together to study and deploy new, advanced technology
that will enable us to work toward the goal of helping to protect and conserve
the right whale,” said Sophie Hartfield Lewis, Ørsted Head of U.S.
Permitting. “It is imperative that Ørsted take a leadership role in
this given our offshore presence along the eastern coastline.”
The three-year project will rely on data collected from two, near real-time
sound detection buoys deployed by WHOI and one experimental buoy deployed
by URI. WHOI and URI will take the lead on advancing localization and detection
distance methods for fixed buoy systems.
“The technology exists now to acoustically detect and track marine mammals
such as the North Atlantic right whale with fixed and mobile systems and
this project will demonstrate this technology,” said James H. Miller,
Professor of Ocean Engineering and Oceanography, University of Rhode Island.
The project will also feature the use of an unmanned glider that will be
led by Rutgers to telemeter to shore in near real-time oceanographic data
and detections of marine mammal vocalizations. The glider, a first for
Ørsted, will provide a persistent presence within and surrounding the Ørsted
lease areas in New Jersey. The project will share oceanographic data via
the regional ocean observing data portals such as Mid-Atlantic Regional
Association Coastal Ocean Observing System.
“The environmental variables collected on these glider missions will be
fed directly into national data systems that provide vital ocean information
for improving the prediction of marine-driven weather, such as coastal
storms,” said Joseph F. Brodie, Director of Atmospheric Research,
Rutgers University Center for Ocean Observing Leadership.
A further element of the project will be the inclusion of acoustic receivers
on the glider and buoys. This data will be shared with networks such as
the Mid-Atlantic Acoustic Telemetry Observation System, which was established
to monitor for fish tagged by multiple researchers in the region. Data
collected by the receivers will contribute to furthering the understanding
of movement patterns of a range of species included those of importance
to the fishing industry.
“Our project will help to minimize the impact of wind farm construction
and operation on whales so that both we and the whales can reap the long-term
benefits of clean energy,” said Mark Baumgartner, Senior Scientist,
Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
For more information on offshore wind
farms worldwide, click