The Southern Ocean Network of Acoustics (SONA) is a group of partners from Australia, France, New Zealand, Norway, the UK and USA who have united to measure the mid-trophic level of the ecosystem. SONA partners frequently undertake transits to Antarctic research bases, fisheries sites, and other large-scale Antarctic research locations. They have agreed on common standards and protocols for acoustic data collection and processing, with a view to providing that data on an open access basis.
In order to address milestones towards the goal of having useful, open access data, SONA held an Acoustic Processing and Methods workshop in Vigo (24-25 April 2016). Seven members of SONA, representing four of the partners, and four invited participants discussed topics including acoustic data/data coverage and availability; data processing techniques and comparison; metrics of data quality and DOIs (digital object identifiers); summary statistics and a way forward for regional comparison; and future collaboration.
Figure 1: SONA participants: John Horne (University of Washington), Jenny Thomas and Sophie Fielding (BAS), Charles Anderson (NOAA NCEI), Rudy Kloser and Tim Ryan (CSIRO), Pablo Escobar-Flores (University of Auckland/NIWA), Adam Dunford (NIWA), Anna Conchon (CLS), Toby Jarvis (Echoview) and Anthony Cossio (NOAA, SWFC).
The workshop identified a number of initiatives that now exist to archive acoustic data, appropriately extract and document metadata, and to facilitate distribution of processed data. These include the Integrated Marine Observing System Bio-Acoustic Ships Of Opportunity IMOS-BASOOP, National Center for Environmental Information NOAA-NCEI, and SONA (in development).
A key part of the workshop addressed comparability of data processing techniques, with participants processing each other’s data in order to highlight differences (and similarities) between methods. This revealed the requirement for reference datasets that could be used to test new processing algorithms, and for further discussions on how they would influence processed data output. These datasets would need to represent different geographic areas (and therefore different biological conditions and hydrographic forces), different vessels and different types of noise (weather driven, vessel driven, etc). The NCEI offered to host these datasets.
The initial NERC funding for SONA expires in January 2017, but the group identified that they would continue to use the umbrella of SONA to facilitate collaboration and data and practise sharing. Several SONA participants are also involved in the new EU Horizon 2020 funded MEsopelagic Southern Ocean Prey and Predators (MESOPP) program (in development). MESOPP will also facilitate continued collaboration.