Are vibrations from offshore wind turbine farms killing whales?

Environmentalists say navy sonar hurts whales, but ignore impacts of offshore wind farms

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Dead whale on European beach. For more such images see wcfn.org

Paul Driessen and Mark Duchamp

Between January 9 and February 4 this year, 29 sperm whales got stranded and died on English, German and Dutch beaches. Environmentalists and the news media offered multiple explanations – except the most obvious and likely one: offshore wind farms.

Indeed, that area has the world’s biggest concentration of offshore wind turbines, and there is ample evidence that their acoustic pollution can interfere with whale communication and navigation.

However, Britain’s Guardian looked for answers everywhere but in the right place. That’s not surprising, as it tends to support wind energy no matter the cost to people or the environment. After consulting with a marine environmental group, the paper concluded: “The North Sea acts as a trap.… It’s virtually impossible for [whales] to find their way out through the narrow English Channel.”

No it’s not. These intelligent animals would naturally have found their way to and through the Channel by simply following the coast of England or continental Europe. But the author seems determined to pursue his “explanation,” even when it becomes increasingly illogical. “The [trapped] whales become dehydrated because they obtain their water from squid,” he argues, before acknowledging that “the dead Dutch and German animals were well-fed,” and that the North Sea’s squid population has increased in recent years.

The article discards Royal Navy sonar and explosives, because “big naval exercises in UK waters are unusual in midwinter.” Finally, the author concludes with this quote from his purported expert: “When there’s a mass stranding, it’s always wise to look at possible human effects. But, at the moment, I don’t see anything pointing in that direction.” He should look a bit harder. Not everyone is so blind.

Indeed, “researchers at the University of St. Andrews have found that the noise made by offshore wind farms can interfere with a whale’s sonar, and can in tragic cases see them driven onto beaches where they often die,” a UK Daily Mail article observed.

It is certainly possible that permanent damage to the cetaceans’ middle and inner ears, and thus to their built-in sonar, can result from large air guns used during seismic surveys and from violent bursts of noise associated with pilings being rammed into the rock bed. Wind promoters themselves admit that their pile-driving can be heard up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) underwater, and can be harmful to whales that happen to be nearby. But unless these injuries cause external bleeding, they are very difficult to detect.

Natural phenomena such as seaquakes, underwater volcanic eruptions and meteorites crashing into the oceans have likely been the cause of whale beachings throughout history, by injuring the animals’ inner ears and sonar organs, frightening and disorienting them, and causing them to seek refuge in shallow waters. In more recent years, “military exercises using mid-frequency sonar have been linked quite clearly to the disorientation and death of beaked whales,” says The Guardian.

Low frequency sonar can be even more dangerous, the Natural Resource Defense Council asserts. “Some systems operate at more than 235 decibels,” the NRDC has said, “producing sound waves that can travel across tens or even hundreds of miles of ocean. During testing off the California coast, noise from the Navy’s main low-frequency sonar system was detected across the breadth of the northern Pacific Ocean.”

The U.S. Navy itself has recognized the danger that sonar systems represent for marine mammals. As reported in Science magazine: “In a landmark study, the U.S. Navy has concluded that it killed at least six whales in an accident involving common ship-based sonar. The finding, announced late last month by the Navy and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), may complicate Navy plans to field a powerful new sonar system designed to detect enemy submarines at long distances,” despite how important that system and its submarine and surface ship counterparts are for national security.

It has been said the “low-frequency active sonar” from this system would be the loudest sound ever put into the seas, The Guardian states. But wind turbines also emit low frequency noise, including dangerous infrasound. At sea, these vibrations are transmitted via the masts to the water, and via the pilings to the rock bed. They can travel up to 31 miles (50 kilometers).

Granted, the acoustic pollution caused by sonar – particularly powerful navy systems – is greater than that from wind turbines. But wind turbine noise and infrasound are nearly constant, last as long as the turbines are in place and come from multiple directions, as in the areas where the whales were recently stranded.

On land, although the wind industry continues to deny any culpability, evidence is mounting that low frequency and particularly infrasound waves emitted by wind turbines have significant adverse effects on local residents, including sleep deprivation, headaches, tachycardia (abnormally rapid heart rates) and a dozen other ailments. Underwater, a milieu where sound waves travel much farther, it would be irresponsible and unscientific to argue that whales are not affected by operating wind turbines, all the more because cetaceans use their sonar to “see” what’s around them

As scientists have pointed out, “It is likely that acoustic masking by anthropogenic sounds is having an increasingly prevalent impact on animals’ access to acoustic information that is essential for communication and other important activities, such as navigation and prey/predator detection.”

“Blinded” by this masking, whales and dolphins could seek refuge in shallow waters, away from big ships and killer whales. There, low tides could surprise them, as large pelagic species have limited experience with tidal flows.

In September 2012, 19 pilot whales, a minke whale and a large sei whale beached on the coast of Scotland opposite an area where air guns were being used by ships surveying the ocean floor, as a prelude to installing offshore wind farms. “A second pod of 24 pilot whales was spotted in shallow water by Cellardyke around the same time, but [it] returned to sea without beaching,” the article noted.

Offshore turbines were also associated with “many” stillborn baby seals washing up onshore near the UK’s Scroby Sands wind farm in June 2005. “It’s hard not to conclude the wind farm is responsible,” the author concluded.

Many more similar deaths may well have been caused by wind farms at sea. The scientific and environmental literature abounds in warnings about risks to marine mammals from man-made noise.

Modern 8-megawatt offshore turbines are 656 feet (200 meters) above the waves; their rotating blades sweep across a 538-foot (164-meter) diameter. Those enormous blades create powerful pulsating infrasound and exact a toll on many species of marine birds, and even on bats that are attracted to the turbines as far as 9 miles (14 km) offshore.

In a February 2005 letter, the Massachusetts Audubon Society estimated that the proposed Cape Cod wind project alone would kill up to 6,600 marine birds each year, including the roseate tern, which is on the endangered list.

Do we really want to add marine mammals to the slaughter of birds and bats, by expanding this intermittent, harmful, enormously expensive and heavily subsidized energy source in marine habitats?

In addition, having forests of these enormous turbines off our coasts will greatly increase the risk of collisions for surface vessels, especially in storms or dense fog, as well as for submarines. It will also impair radar and sonar detection of hostile ships and low-flying aircraft, including potential terrorists, and make coastal waters more dangerous for Coast Guard helicopters and other rescue operations.

The offshore wind industry makes no sense from an economic, environmental, defense or shipping perspective. To exempt these enormous installations from endangered species and other laws that are applied with a heavy hand to all other industries – and even to the U.S. and Royal Navy – is irresponsible, and even criminal.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death. Mark Duchamp is president of Save the Eagles International.

Images related to this article:

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Locations of major UK wind farms and projects Bleeding ear on porpoise

 

99 thoughts on “Are vibrations from offshore wind turbine farms killing whales?

      • the top of the rotating blade is at 282 meters, and the bottom is at 118 meter which is a 2.4 to one ratio.

        So there is a top to bottom wind shear well known to sailboat sailors, and the wind axial thrust will vary as the square of that ratio. so the blades will flex back and forth axially at the rotation rate. The blade lift also goes as the square of wind speed so there will also be a blade tip torque oscillation at the same rotation rate.

        Eventually the blades will fail from vibration; literally shaking themselves to pieces.

        The same effect can be demonstrated with an electric trolling motor on a fishing boat.

        Run the motor out of the water, and it will purr along without a hint of vibration.

        Drop it in the water, with the bottom blade tip higher than the boat keel, so it can’t hit the bottom, and the upper blade fully submerged, and it will vibrate like crazy.

        Nothing wrong wit the motor, just the surface blade, is generating much less thrust than the deep blade.

        G

    • From your link “…After Three Mile Island and after Fukushima in Hawaii…all the flies went away for a year.”
      Interesting, but I don’t recall Fukushima in Hawaii?

      • Well the article specifically does not mention Sperm Whales.

        Mostly pilot whales, and a minke and sei whale both of which are smaller baleen whales and do eat krill.

        G

      • Baleen whales including blue, humpback and gray whales eat krill, plankton and small fish. Baleen is hairy fringe located inside the whale’s mouth. When the whale swims through a school of fish or krill, the small animals are trapped in the whale’s baleen and swallowed. Other baleen whales are rorqual and right whales.

      • Also if you read the article, there are many mass die offs of squids that are noted, and many unseen. However, IF you read the article, you should have seen that squid also use chitin as an important body structure. Radiation bio accumulates and breaks the strong chitin bonds that make chitin essential and useful.

    • Stock: “Damaged chitin structures in krill are the most likely cause of mass whales deaths”.
      Except in this case, the whales are getting stuck in the channels, how is their inability to navigate related to the Krill? Was their any evidence of starvation?:

      • There are mass whale death all over the place, not just Europe, UME in Alaska, Hawaii’s Humpback whales, that do by the way eat lots of krill, are 50% “missing” this year.

        Starvation does not need to be the ultimate cause. Lack of health via lack of food and nutrition can let other parasites, viruses, fungal attacks, or full on disease take root. I have seen ZERO test results on the death of the whales, which leads me to believe that the real truth is too awful to publish.

  1. Obviously, generating “clean, green” electric power and eliminating “carbon” emissions is way more important than taking care of natural ecosystems and the fauna that inhabit them. Environmentalists used to care about such things but not any more; it’s all been subsumed into this obsessive battle against fossil fuels. What a tragedy. What a waste of human and natural resources.

    Margaret Thatcher not only deliberately managed the decline of a (not very well functioning but it still had all the moving parts) industrial society and tried to replace it with what can only be described as “people moving money from one place to another” – but she is one of the most guilty initiators of the whole AGW scheme. I almost wish there was an afterlife so she could look down at what she started.

    • Baroness Thatcher believed that scientists were honest people and therefore their claims on global warming. Once she realised that they were dishonest and lied about global warming, she changed her mind.

      • Yes, as PM she used the global warming scare as a weapon against the miners.
        But in her later years she became a sceptic. She described the whole sorry thing as “hot air”, which is appropriate.
        I believe she devoted one or two pages to climate change in her book. Does anyone have a link to the full text of the climate change section?
        Chris

      • Gerry, England and Chris Wright:

        I see you are trying to excuse the execrable Margaret Thatcher for her having deliberately starting the global warming scare.

        She did it for personal reasons which were nothing to do with scientists or miners.

        People wanting the facts of these matters can read this.

        Richard

      • Well it is easy to take pot shots at politicians; who may not necessarily be expected to have good information about scientific issues.

        Viscount M of B was there at the time, and is likely more aware than most of us, what PM Thatcher believed about climate.

        In any case, her dealings with the mining unions were not about the weather.

        She might have been Britain’s last chance to avoid the descent they now are undergoing.

        G

        And that Meryl Streep piece of garbage about Thatcher, was just that; a piece of garbage.

        The Socialists tried the same gambit on President Reagan. (and Nancy too )

      • Yirgach:

        Yes, having created the AGW-scare, she later dropped the matter when it no longer suited her personal agenda. Many politicians of all kinds behave in similar cynical manner but – as in all things – Thatcher’s political action was extreme.

        Richard

    • Some old tired myths there, try these facts from 2009 paper by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

      Output of British manufacturing reached an all time high in 2007 adjusted for inflation
      UK is world’s 6th largest manufacturer (15% global share aerospace)
      UK manufacturing productivity increased 50% from 1997 to 2007

      Manufacturing misconceptions
      Long before the onset of the current downturn, there was a widespread perception that the
      manufacturing sector in the UK was either already dead, or soon would be. This is not true.
      Manufacturing’s share of the total economy is certainly in decline, because services have
      grown more quickly in recent years. Likewise employment in the sector has been shrinking,
      as a result of significant and essential productivity improvements, which are in fact a ‘good
      news’ story for the sector. Another popular misconception arises from a confusion about
      foreign ownership: a significant number of flagship British brands have indeed been bought
      by foreign companies, but this doesn’t always mean that their UK manufacturing capacity
      is then shut; in many cases manufacturing activity stays and thrives here.
      Strip out the facts from the fallacies, and the truth is that the real value of UK manufacturing
      output has increased in 35 out of the past 50 years, and 2007 was a record year for UK manufacturing production.

  2. The doom-mongers see doom everywhere except where they are causing it. They refuse to see their own damage, refuse to acknowledge it and refuse to take responsibility for it. Grown-ups don’t act like this.

  3. In leftist dogma there are different classifications for dead whales: those who die for the cause and those who have been butchered by right wing conspirators who are actively destroying the planet.
    When your imagined ends justifies any means, then you are justified to require others to do as you say not as you do.

    • Not alarmist at all – it is a logical conclusion to the increasing number of whale and cetacean deaths in the North Sea as the number of marine wind turbines increase.

      In any event, and a matter of fact, Wind Turbines do nothing at all to reduce CO2 emissions because conventional gas generation has to be run constantly and ready to take up the load the moment that the wind blows too fast or too slow.

      Peer reviewed studies on Eiregen and the Dutch generator which were published around 2-3 years ago showed that there was actually a very small (0.5%) Increase in CO2 emissions where wind turbines were installed. There is no logical, economic or environmental argument to support the use of wind turbines it is simply a religious dogma.

      • There is no logical, economic or environmental argument
        =============
        hold on. if you are getting government subsidies to install them, there is plenty of logic. if you are an environmental group getting paid to rally round the windfarm flag, there is plenty of logic.

        it is only those of us that have to pay for this nonsense that cannot see the logic. which means that the only real solution is to get on the gravy train. once we all are getting paid to have a windmill in the backyard, only then will the madness end.

  4. As for wind generators killing birds when I bring up that subject up the greenies always fire back that cats buildings cars kill a lot more. Its like giving the wind generation a pass.

    • The response is, they are different birds. Cats kill the small and rapidly reproducing ones that are not in any way endangered. Windmills kill the slowly reproducing majestic raptors of the skies, and the ecologically important carrion fowl, many species of which are endangered. And, they kill the bats, which are critical for insect control.

      If the oil companies were responsible for the same level of avian slaughter, the mentalists would be going berserk. As it is, with wind power slated to ramp up significantly, the massacre is only going to accelerate.

      • A few years back, about a dozen migrating water fowl (I forget which species, but they aren’t endangered) died in a waste pond near a drilling site. The fine was something like $1million dollars.

    • I have completely and thoroughly debunked the fiction that cats kill the massive numbers of birds that some green groups claim as justification for the mass deaths caused by the wealth destroying bird choppers.
      There are nowhere near as many feral cats as is claimed, and cats have a hard time killing any but an occasional sick or weak or very old or very young bird.
      Cats have their best success at hunting at night, when songbirds are never active.
      Birds laugh at cats.
      Songbird numbers are increasing rapidly in most areas.

      • In the UK it is highly likely that the reduction in songbird numbers is connected to the uncontrolled rise in the number of urban magpies. Studies in rural areas have shown that a pair of magpies will clear all the eggs and chicks from songbird nests in a half to three quarters of a mile of hedgerow in just one season.

        As magpies are not culled in urban areas their depredation of songbirds is very high – but the RSPB, now a very ‘green’ organisation, seems unable to bring itself to admit that or bring itself to encourage the control of urban magpie populations.

        C’est la vie vert.

      • the reduction in songbird numbers
        ==============
        here in BC it is crows. there used to be a bounty on them. now they are protected and have become a serious pest, driving out the songbirds.

      • How exactly have you debunked the idea that cats kill large numbers of birds? It is not just feral cats, pet cats do it as well. A friend of mine has a cat that dragged home a bird a week on average when it was younger – which does not even include birds it killed but did not drag home. That’s 50/year, an enormous amount for a single cat.

      • Chris, try reading what I said again a little more carefully. I did not say that cats did not kills birds, but specifically referred the numbers that have been purported.
        I am not going to recount the entire thing right now, because it is late and I have to sleep…but it is all about math and common sense.
        Are you aware of previous discussions on the topic, in which the number of feral cats is said to be of the same magnitude as the number of people in the country? And that each one of all the cats in the country would have to be killing more than your friends cat?

        There are large cities full of people…people living stacked up upon each other. I challenge anyone to provide a shred of evidence for comparable numbers of feral cats.

        “A friend of mine has a cat…” is not evidence by the way.
        I do not have to rely on anecdotes…I have had dozens and dozens of cats…city cats, farm cats, suburban cats…and I have had cats which never caught a bird and ones which caught an occasional bird.
        It is not easy for a cat to catch a healthy bird.
        “My friend has a cat”…and therefore you are going to buy whatever number some person puts out in order to justify the bird choppers?

      • Think about the statement that your friends cat caught a bird a week on average.
        Was this all year around? Winter and Summer, Spring and Fall?
        There are times of year that this is almost impossible to believe.
        Such accounts are like the person who knew a maternity ward nurse and, by golly, there are more babies born on a full moon, because she said so.
        One cat caught a noteworthy number of birds…which was almost surely exaggerated to begin with…but you also stated “when it was young”. Well, that changes the math then, does it not? How many years is a cat “young” for?
        How many friends have cats that never go outside? Or that do…but never or rarely caught a bird?
        How many mice (or other small rodents) per bird does an average hunting cat catch? It is far easier for a cat to catch animals active at night and which cannot ….um…fly away. That live on the ground rather than high in trees.
        The issue is not whether cats kill birds, but whether the number could possibly be in the billion per year range. And also how this is relevant to the sorts of birds killed by wind turbines.
        If you want, let me know, and I will dig up the whole story for you tomorrow.

      • Menicholas, I did not base my view on just one discussion with a friend with a cat, that was simply an anecdote stating that pet cats who are let outside can do a lot of damage. My conclusion was based on 2 studies. In one, they attached “kitty cams” to 60 house cats who were let outside. So these are not feral cats, but pets. 30% of the cats averaged one kill for every 17 hours outdoors, or 2.1 kills per week. I told you 1, so my figure is well within reason. Now, these are not just birds, so birds would be a fraction of this total. But according to the article, if you extrapolate the bird kills measured in this survey across the country, you get 500M birds killed per year, a massive amount. Here is the study: http://www.wildlifemanagementinstitute.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=610:new-research-suggests-outdoor-cats-kill-more-wildlife-than-thought&catid=34:ONB+Articles&Itemid=54

      • Now that I think about it while not very sleepy, I recall that at least once and maybe several times we had long discussions on this topic right here.
        I was not the only one who believes the numbers must be highly exaggerated, or a person would not be able to go outside without coming across feral cats everywhere.
        The estimates for the number of cats in the country, both feral and owned, are based on thin data collected in an unscientific way, and then extrapolated out to the entire country, as if there are as many feral cats per square mile in the whole country as in some urban areas.

      • “The estimates for the number of cats in the country, both feral and owned, are based on thin data collected in an unscientific way, and then extrapolated out to the entire country, as if there are as many feral cats per square mile in the whole country as in some urban areas.”

        Unscientific based on what? Many data sources are used – sales of pet food, surveys of homeowners, surveys of veterinarians. Regardless of which surveys you use, the figures end up between 50M and 100M

        http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/pet_ownership_statistics.html?referrer=https://www.google.com.sg/

        http://www.statista.com/statistics/198102/cats-in-the-united-states-since-2000/

        For feral cats, estimates range from 30M to 70M. I agree the feral figure is much harder to verify. So let’s divide by 5, that’s a huge reduction. That still means 100M birds killed by cats, a massive number that dwarfs anything related to wind farms.

        And no, songbirds are not increasing rapidly in most places. Cats are only one of many causes, but the numbers are not rapidly increasing. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/06/130621-threats-against-birds-cats-wind-turbines-climate-change-habitat-loss-science-united-states/

  5. Pods of whales have been beaching themselves for years before wind turbines were at sea.

    • @Charles Nelson
      That is true, but not in anything like the recent numbers and very rarely if ever recorded in European waters before the advent of submarines and sonar …..

      • Whales beaching themselves is nothing new.
        Pliny The Elder investigated this 2000 years ago and was baffled, couldn’t fault wind farms at all.
        A keen student of nature, he died observing an active volcano up close.
        Don’t see that kind of dedication in scientists these days.

  6. I find this posts speculation less than helpful. A similar event occurred in 1996, 27 speem whales; no offshore wind turbines. In the January 2016 event, all were juvenile males. It suggests they left their pod together and ‘got lost’. There is more than one way into the North Sea, north of Scotland and south of Norway, without offshore turbines. That is also the major exit, not down the coasts of the Channel. North Sea is not natural habitat for sperm whales; too shallow and messes up their echolocation. And, can become too rough. There were several major gales in January. Necropsies showed these whales were foraging in shallow water (squid, monkfish stomach contents). That is a dangerous proposition in rough seas.

    • Thank you. While I certainly agree that windmills are likely to affect sealife, this specific instance does not seem to be a good example. I’ve seen this sort of argument used too many times by environmentalists to effectively ban everything

  7. From the article:
    “Do we really want to add marine mammals to the slaughter of birds and bats”
    Hey, the bats and birds get hit by the whirly sky blenders and fall into the ocean. As long as they stay below the surface, like the marine mammals do when their ears blow out, whats the problem? Nothing to see here, move along. Until those pesky carcasses start to litter our beautiful shore line.
    /sarc-off

  8. 1) Greens don’t care about whales.
    2) Greens don’t care about wind turbines.
    3) Greens don’t care about brown people.
    4) Greens don’t care about pollution.

    Greens care a great deal about redistributing wealth reducing the human population and establishing a UN controlled socialist government.

    Whales… whales are a canard. Greens don’t care, so long as they can indoctrinate your kids into socialism.

      • Paul Westhaver and Ernest Bush:

        One of you says Greens are socialists and the other says they are fascists. There is no point in discussing which of you is right because you are both wrong.

        Richard

      • Richard,

        Not a conundrum at all, since fascists are socialists. Both are statists, the key difference being that fascists are national socialists and communists are international socialists. The UK Labour Party has been both international and national, indeed imperialistic, in its tortured history. The SNP today is national socialist, while it appears that Labour is tearing itself apart over international v. national tendencies, ie EU and immigration v. going it alone and returning to island status both figuratively and literally.

    • “Greens don’t care about brown people.”

      Yeah, those green groups that are installing solar powered lamps in remote villages in Africa and South Asia don’t care about the people they are helping. By the way, coal fired plants are impractical for many of these locations as the population density is too low to cost justify laying out the required power lines. But hey, don’t let facts get in your way.

  9. Infrasound can have strange effects on people:

    Their research led them to conclude that infrasound at or around a frequency of 19 Hz,[2][10][13] has a range of physiological effects, including feelings of fear and shivering.[7][14] Though this had been known for many years, Tandy and Lawrence were the first people to link it to ghostly sightings. wiki Tandy’s paper

    Certainly there is debate about whether the infrasound generated by windmills can affect the health of humans. Given the amount of money involved, we can expect that the best scientists money can buy will produce the required results.

    • There is a huge offshore wind farm blighting the view in the Solway Firth. It’s all too visible from Maryport looking over towards the Scottish side. I’m told there are plans to double the number.

      • Since the advent of the Robin Rig offshore array in the Solway Firth the catches by nets and rod and line of Atlantic salmon have crashed to such an extent that the Scottish Parliament have banned the killing and taking of salmon in the Scottish Solway rivers.
        I do not expect any research along the lines of these findings as Scotland swallowed the AGW crap hook line and sinker.

  10. It’s about time that acknowledgement of the threat to sea life is discussed. To my knowledge many other species also use sound/vibrations/etc as a prime sense as critical as sight and hearing is for a human. The lateral line on fish is used for predator detection in bass, stripers (rockfish), bait fish, etc. Another possible issue is ground birds such as grouse which use drumming in mating. The list is probably much larger than that I mentioned here.

    The possible/probable impacts from the wind turbine industry could be catastrophic to many species in the sea, land, and air.

    • I agree. if the massive build-out of wind farms which the green crowd envisions ever becomes a reality, I would wager that large migratory and predatory birds will face extinction not many years after that.

  11. “their rotating blades sweep across a 538-foot (164-meter) diameter. Those enormous blades create powerful pulsating infrasound”

    the infra sound pulses created by wind turbines are caused by the vortexes from the blade tips. Most of the infra sound energy is in the air not the water . The author doesn’t appear to have actually cone out in a boat and actually tried measuring the infra sound levels under water and compared them to those above water. I suspect that the tower carries very little of the air sound to the water. Most of the sound in the air is simply reflected by the water and towers into the upper atmosphere where it dissipates..

    • Whales spend a lot of time on or near the surface. They would pick up air infrasound.

      • Density makes no difference to how far sound travels per se. Other characteristics make a huge difference. The important figure is attenuation. The attenuation of sound in air at 1 kHz (10% relative humidity) is 14 dB per km. In sea water it is 0.07 dB per km. So, sound will travel way farther in sea water than it will in air.

        Between air and sea water the difference is mostly because one is a gas and the other is a practically incompressible liquid. And, yes, fences will complicate things. :-)

      • This is interesting. I would have said that compressibility was the big deal. And I would have said that compressibility was the inverse of hardness. This table seems to confirm that. Sound travels much faster in diamond (12000 m/s) than in almost any other material. How, then, do we explain beryllium (12890 m/s) which is a lot softer than diamond?

      • As for speed of sound in diamond vs. beryllium: The speed of sound in a material is generally inversely proportional to the square root of its product of density and compressibility. The inverse of compressibility is bulk modulus, which has positive but not great correlation with hardness. Hardness of a pure substance mainly requires compressive strength, and diamond is great there.
        And notably, beryllium is much less dense than diamond.

      • Why do people keep on insisting that water is incompressible.

        Even diamond is compressible; and water most certainly is compressible.

        G

      • george e. smith says:
        March 4, 2016 at 7:39 am

        Why do people keep on insisting that water is incompressible.

        You will note that, sly weasel that I am, I said ‘practically incompressible’ and I was comparing sea water with air. Any material has to be somewhat compressible because atomic bonds are elastic.

  12. Sound waves in the water made my the military messing up the whales are, well, military. Bad!
    Sound waves in the water made my the Green Things messing up the whales are, well, Green. GOOD!

    (Besides, “Save the Whales!” is so passe.)

  13. The harmonics of Big Wind Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines HAWTs are well known and will radiate through the fixed mount structures of Europe’s offshore installations of Big MW Wind which rigidly mount the sea floor.

    There is no question the frequencies emitted from these Big Wind HAWT mount structures are present and will disrupt and disorient the sonar communication of any whale, and as the article points out may even cause inner ear damage which will affect their navigation ability, leading to their beaching and deaths.

    The Guardian in the UK has it wrong regarding these whale deaths in the English Channel and North Sea. The oceanic environmentalists and scientists need to take action right now and offer to work with Big Wind and Federal Governments to solve this problem.

    Fortunately, there is a simple way to seriously reduce harmonic emissions into the water from fixed mount HAWTS, and that is to convert these Big Wind Turbines to Low Mount Vertical Axis Wind Turbines VAWTs which are tethered floating platforms, even in near shore applications, which will dramatically reduce the amount of vibration which travels through the water , a solution which for now, Big Wind developers chose to ignore as do the governments which regulate them to maintain current profit and job levels in this down economy.

    For new projects not yet constructed, the environmentally safe way forward for Big and Small Wind offshore and near shore is to change the deployment model to Low Mount Wind Turbines of the VAWT type, mounted on floating platforms. VAWTs will not cost any more because these low mount wind turbines are designed to operate in semi-turbulent winds with higher solidity designs . Better yet such low mount VAWTs can be universally mounted near shore in smaller sizes but in larger numbers with much lower mount and transmission costs, and much lower operating and maintenance O&M costs, and much better power output per hectare of space, because the trailing wake characteristics if VAWTs require 4 to 5 working diameter spacing versus HAWTS which require 12-17 diameter spacing to work efficiently.

    *****

    • Funny how people think that wind turbines (horizontical) are radiating infra-sound waves from their tip vortices.

      They tips are moving through the air at a fairly sizeable Mach number, and there is nothing infra that applies to their wingtip vortices. The tip velocities are much higher than any wind speeds they encounter.

      The torsional blade vibrations due to wind shear are certainly infra (rotation frequency) but not strongly coupled to the structure.

      BUT ! the axial thrust wind shear oscillations are directly coupled to the top of the support columns, and as you point out, connected directly to the sea bottom and also directly coupled to the water, which thereby acts as a damping factor (I have no idea how much) but that very damping loss is acoustic energy dissipated in the sea water.

      As near as I can determine, all of the vertical wind turbines that were installed in California in the Tehachapi pass are now inactive. But that does seem like a good approach for open space installations where wind direction can vary a lot.

      G

  14. Scare mongering based on wholly insubstantial evidence is usually the province of the greens. Using this as the basis for criticising wind turbines is precisely the same stupidity. Turbines may or may not be justified – a conclusion should be reached on the facts, not supposition.

    Scepticism should be founded on reasoned argument based on data and appropriate scientific principles.

    • True.
      Maybe take this as “Theatrical Thursday”? “The worm TurnsDay”?
      It’s the logic they use. Perhaps being confronted with it will realign a few shorted synapse?

  15. Too much supposition here, evidenced by “could,” “would,” “may well,” etc. But clearly a subject which needs serious research. Do you suppose the government granting agencies would fund it?

    /Mr Lynn

  16. Maybe some new restaurant menu items are in order.
    Instead of “surf and turf”, “surf and birds”.
    “Fish and chips”, “fish and chirps”.
    “Sushi”. “Soundshi”.
    All prepared in solar ovens, of course.

  17. Wind cannot be blamed for anything in the UK. There was a news article by Roger Harrabin in which he stated wind power is virtually free. It harms no-one and costs nothing “apparently”

  18. When sound emitted in air hits water, well over 99% of it gets reflected back into the air (or absorbed in any spray and foam) because of the great mismatch between the acoustic impedances of water and air, mostly due to the difference of density. Likewise, sound waves in water mostly stay in the water. This is true at all frequencies of sound including infrasound and ultrasound.

  19. What about the frequencies of sonar and wind farms?
    The main complaints I heard before about acoustic radiation from wind farms was with subsonic frequencies, which are below 20 Hz. Although I think frequencies between 20 and 60 Hz also seem significant.

    Then there is this article about sonar and marine life: It says the 300 Hz of low frequency sonar is not as much of a problem as higher sonar frequencies like the 3000-4000 Hz of mid-frequency sonar. https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4236

  20. george e. smith
    March 3, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    “So there is a top to bottom wind shear well known to sailboat sailors”

    And microlight/ultralight pilots know that you can also experience an inversion at levels lower than 600ft. This means the blades can not only experience a variation in wind speed, but a completely different direction and temperature as well.

  21. The Environmentalists have no idea what these vibrations and sub audible low frequency noise is doing on either land or sea. They do not even want to look for the effects and anyone that claims to have been affected by these low frequency is immediately labeled a “Climate Denier.” I am certain they want no negative effects ever put in writing to torpedo their cause.

  22. “Blinded” by this masking, whales and dolphins could seek refuge in shallow waters, away from big ships and killer whales. ”
    It is likely that the cetaceans are simply fleeing the source of the sound, which they can hear behind them, but because acoustic waves underwater do NOT reflect from gentle beaches, they do not ‘see’ the hazard before them. It is not coincidental that most strandings seem to occur in the dark, when they are optically blind as well.

  23. One of the comments in the Guardian article claims the whales are getting lost because of CO2 intoxication.

    “High concentrations of carbon dioxide cause fish to become intoxicated — a phenomenon known as hypercapnia. Essentially, the fish become lost at sea. The carbon dioxide affects their brains and they lose their sense of direction and ability to find their way home. They don’t even know where their predators are.”

  24. If true then the greenies are hoist on their own petards. (rocket blast from farting, for those who haven’t read this bit of Shakespeare, FYI) Their criticize the navy, all the time, over their sonar emissions alleged effects upon whales and dolphins – don’t they? Now their “save the planet” tech might also be damaging the same creatures? Horrors!!! Will they change their ways? Nope. They will merely ignore this side of the equation and continue to hold the navy’s feet to the fire. Some animals ARE more equal than others – didn’t you know? They do.

  25. Here we go again! Offshore wind farms – a subject that I used to speak about and to raise awarness on that. I continue to say that this the way that offshore wind farms function and interfere with humans, animals and CLIMATE was not investigated enough. From what I read here (http://climate-ocean.com/2015/K.html) it seems that anthropogene activities in the North Sea, Baltic and the coastal seas – offshore wind farms being included here – are partially responsible on the more accentuated warming of the Northern Europe. If we put in balance the good parts and the bad parts of the offshore wind farms, I’m not sure that we will like the answer…

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