Tag Archives: Noise

Scientists say noise pollution is harming sea life, needs to be prioritized

Far beneath the ocean surface, a cacophony of industrial noise is disrupting marine animals’ ability to mate, feed and even evade predators, scientists warn.
 
With rumbling ships, hammering oil drills and booming seismic survey blasts, humans have drastically altered the underwater soundscape — in some cases deafening or disorienting whales, dolphins and other marine mammals that rely on sound to navigate, researchers report in a metastudy to be published Friday by the journal Science that examines more than 500 research papers.
 
Even the cracking of glaciers calving into polar oceans and the rattle of rain falling on the water’s surface can be heard deep under the sea, said lead author Carlos Duarte, a marine scientist at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.
 
“It’s a chronic problem that certainly weakens the animals all the way from individuals to populations,” said Duarte in an interview. “This is a growing problem, one that is global in scope.”
 
These noises and their impacts need more attention from scientists and policymakers, particularly the effects on sea turtles and other reptiles, seabirds, seals, walruses and plant-eating mammals such as manatees, the study says.


A raft of California sea lions enjoys a swim. Sea lions call to each other both above and under the water. (Daniel Costa)

University of Victoria marine biologist Francis Juanes, one of the study’s co-authors, said that while much of the work on the effect of noise had been done on marine mammals, the researchers are seeing consistently negative effects that are pervasive among ocean-dwelling animals. 

“It’s not just whales,” said Juanes, adding that invertebrates and fish are also feeling the effects of noise pollution. “We’ve assumed that the ocean is silent for the most part. But it turns out that it isn’t, and the reason it isn’t is because sound travels very far under water.”

As such, the international team of researchers called for a global regulatory framework for measuring and managing ocean noise.

A composition of underwater recordings from the Arctic to tropical oceans of fish, mammals, crustacea, insects, ice, water, and human-caused sounds. 1:00

Much of the human-caused noise should be easy to reduce, said Duarte. For example, measures such as building quieter ship propellers and hulls and using drilling techniques that do not cause bubbles and water vibrations could cut noise pollution in half, he said.

Having the world use more renewable energy would lessen the need to drill for oil and gas.
 
Duarte said the benefits to marine life could be dramatic, noting a resurgence in marine activity during April 2020 when shipping noise, typically loudest near coastlines, died down as countries went into lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But humans have not only added noise to the ocean; they have also eliminated natural sounds, the study found.
 
Whaling in the 1900s, for example, removed millions of whales from the world’s oceans — along with much of their whale song. And the chirp and chatter around coral reefs is growing quieter as more corals die from ocean warming, acidification and pollution.

Climate change has also changed the soundscape in parts of the ocean that are warming by altering the mix of animals living there, along with the noises they make.
 
Oceanographer Kate Stafford at the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory praised the timing of the metastudy, as the United Nations calls on governments to set aside 30 per cent of the world’s land and sea areas for conservation.
 
“The review makes it clear that, to actually reduce anthrophony (human noise) and aim for a well-managed future … we will need global cooperation among governments,” said Stafford.      

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Emma Thompson Recalls Making ‘A Very Loud and Inappropriate Noise’ When Meeting Prince William

Emma Thompson Recalls Making ‘A Very Loud and Inappropriate Noise’ When Meeting Prince William | Entertainment Tonight

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Nvidia AI Compensates for Your Poor Photography Skills by Erasing Noise From Images

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Taking a photo in poor lighting can often result in something too pixelated and noisy to be useful. Advanced software processing on some phones and cameras can fix moderate noise, but a new project from Nvidia, MIT, and Aalto University uses AI to correct for extreme levels of noise. Even if the “Noise2Noise” system has never seen an image before, it can de-noise it to get something very close to the original.

Noise2Noise is a neural network, which means you need to train it with lots of data. The team used 50,000 images from the ImageNet database, which contains clear, high-resolution images. Of course, the network needs to see noisy images in order to understand how to de-noise them. So, the team artificially added noise to the images and used those to train the algorithm.

Nvidia contributed a bank of Tesla P100 GPUs to run the network training with the cuDNN-accelerated TensorFlow deep learning framework. The network was adjusted until it was able to take out the noise and deliver something close to the original dataset image. The true test is how the network handles new images that it hasn’t seen before. The team reports that Noise2Noise can remove artifacts and noise with a high degree of accuracy.

Researchers point to several possible applications for Noise2Noise. Low-light photography is probably the one that would make the biggest immediate impact on your life. You could run your noisy photos through Noise2Noise and end up with something that looks much nicer. Astrophotography often involves very long exposures, and that leads to high noise. The same process could be applied here to make images of space clearer. MRI images suffer from similar noise issues, and the team tested Noise2Noise as a way to clean them up.

Many camera and smartphone manufacturers have their own processing algorithms that strip noise out of RAW images before showing you the final jpeg. For the most part, they don’t rely on the same technology as Noise2Noise. The only one that’s close is Google, which has leveraged its machine learning technology in the Pixel camera to do similar noise reduction work. However, it’s nowhere near as extreme. Noise2Noise can resolve detail from an almost unrecognizably pixelated image. The final product does look a bit unnaturally smooth, but that’s an issue even with less powerful image processing.

The researchers are presenting their work at the International Conference on Machine Learning in Stockholm, Sweden. It’s still just a computer science curiosity at the moment, but image processing is big business. A practical application could be a big hit.

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