Report from Kansas Acoustics Society meeting

I’ve just returned from a semi-annual Acoustics Society meeting in Kansas City. These events bring together many scientists, researchers, engineers, and academics who are plying the broad arena of acoustics..

The field of acoustics is a potpourri of disciplines that includes speech and linguistics, medical imaging, physiology of sound perception, musical and architectural acoustics, acoustical oceanography, and of course animal bioacoustics. There was no lack of data here for information junkies; the field attracts them, so the conversations were rangy and deep.

I hosted a panel on Arctic Bioacoustics and was honored by who showed up − and completely stoked by the papers that were presented. There were a lot of new findings and avenues of inquiry revealed.

The session appropriately opened up with a paper by Bruce Martin (JASCO Applied Science) on the soundscapes of the Chukchi Sea and went on to cover topics such as bowhead behavioral responses to airguns (Susanna Blackwell, Greeneridge Sciences), acoustic monitoring of belugas (Ellen C. Garland), and ice seals (Jillian Vitacco with Colleen Reichmuth’s lab at UC Santa Cruz).

The session was a real candy-box for those of us in the field, but more importantly it gave us a broader framing on the rapidly changing Arctic. I suspect that many collaborative efforts will arise out of this meeting. It is clear that boat-loads of data are being amassed − punctuating the need to figure out how to catalog it, share it, and use it.

Arctic Shipping Lanes, U.S. Coast Guard photo

Arctic Shipping Lanes, U.S. Coast Guard photo

There is a tacit understanding that we will not have the time to synthesize all of the growing body of data before the Arctic is completely transformed by climate change and industrial exploitation. Ironically much of the data collection is being funded by Shell, a Dutch company which will be one of the many dynamic forces in the transformation.

It is also a sad situation that the Arctic will be revealing glimpses of its biological splendor as a product of this transformation. We will take any opportunity we can to share this progression with the public. Stay tuned.