The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (2020)

DOI: 10.1121/10.0000595


Exploitation of renewable energy from offshore wind farms is substantially increasing worldwide. The majority of wind turbines are bottom mounted, causing high levels of impulsive noise during construction. To prevent temporary threshold shifts (TTS) in harbor porpoise hearing, single strike sound exposure levels (SELSS) are restricted in Germany by law to a maximum of 160 dB re 1 μPa2s at a distance of 750 m from the sound source. Underwater recordings of pile driving strikes, recorded during the construction of an offshore wind farm in the German North Sea, were analyzed. Using a simulation approach, it was tested whether a TTS can still be induced under current protective regulations by multiple exposures. The evaluation tool presented here can be easily adjusted for different sound propagation, acoustic signals, or species and enables one to calculate a minimum deterrence distance. Based on this simulation approach, only the combination of SELSS regulation, previous deterrence, and soft start allow harbor porpoises to avoid a TTS from multiple exposures. However, deterrence efficiency has to be monitored.