UK's NPL unveils new traceable calibration service for underwater acoustic recorders


The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the UK has introduced a new traceable calibration service to provide improved underwater acoustic data.

The new solution has been named the Underwater Autonomous Acoustic Recorder Calibration Service and incorporates NPL’s expertise in marine acoustic monitoring, offering accurate sensors and traceability data to its users.

Precise monitoring of underwater noise plays an important role in understanding the effect of various human activities on marine wildlife, including offshore windfarms installations, dredging harbours and others.

Several environmental regulations and guidelines such as the European Union (EU) Marine Strategy Framework Directive are currently in place to protect wildlife from the negative impacts of noise from shipping, offshore energy exploration, construction and other activities.

The Directive’s Technical Group on Underwater Noise has suggested that acoustic monitoring sensors should be calibrated before deployment, in order to ensure their regulatory compliance and safe underwater operations.

"Our service will enable users of underwater acoustic sensors to record robust, actionable data, and give equipment manufacturers the competitive edge in a growing market."

The new NPL service provides calibration of underwater autonomous acoustic recorders that is traceable back to international standards and enables its users meet the relevant regulatory requirements.

National Physical Laboratory ultrasound and underwater acoustics group higher research scientist Dr Tanja Pangerc said: “We have seen a huge uptake in underwater acoustic measurement, driven by the introduction of new legislation and regulation alongside the availability of new sensing technology.

“However, there are currently few assurances of the quality of the data obtained with uncalibrated equipment; after speaking to device manufacturers, we realised that there was a pressing need for a calibration service to ensure the data being recorded was accurate and traceable, and to reduce the risk of non-compliance.

“Our service is the first of its kind, and will enable users of underwater acoustic sensors to record robust, actionable data, and give equipment manufacturers the competitive edge in a growing market.”

NPL noted that its new service will provide end users and researchers with increased confidence in their data, which will help reduce the risk of invalid results or halted operations.