Office of the Chief Information Officer &
High Performance Computing and Communications

Peer Review Plans

Title and Description:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing: Acoustic Threshold Levels for Onset of Permanent and Temporary Threshold Shifts

NOAA has developed draft guidance for assessing the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammal species under NOAA's jurisdiction. The guidance provides updated received levels, or acoustic threshold levels, based on the best available science, above which individual marine mammals are predicted to experience changes in their hearing sensitivity (either temporary or permanent) for all underwater anthropogenic sound sources. This guidance is intended to be used by NOAA analysts and managers and other relevant user groups and stakeholders, including other federal agencies, when seeking to determine whether and how their activities are expected to result in particular types of impacts to marine mammals via acoustic exposure. Although NOAA has updated the acoustic threshold levels from those previously used, and these changes may necessitate new methodologies for calculating impacts, the application of the thresholds in the regulatory context under applicable statutes (Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, and National Marine Sanctuaries Act) remains consistent with past NOAA practice.

Behavioral threshold levels were originally included in the draft guidance and reviewed by the peer reviewers. NOAA is continuing our examination of the effects of noise on marine mammal behavior and will focus our work over the next year on developing guidance regarding the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammal behavior. Behavioral response is a complex question and we determined we still need time to research and address it appropriately. Behavioral guidance will have a separate peer review plan (see ID 274).

For their Phase 3 Acoustic Effects Analysis, the U.S. Navy recently (January 2015) provided NOAA with a technical paper describing their proposed methodology for updating auditory weighting functions and subsequent numeric thresholds for predicting auditory effects (TTS/PTS thresholds) on marine animals exposed to active sonars and other active acoustic sources utilized during Navy training and testing activities.

Upon evaluation, NOAA preliminarily determined that the Navy's proposed methodology reflects the best available science and are working to incorporate it into our Acoustic Guidance before it becomes final. Before doing so, an independent peer review (i.e., second peer review) of the Navy's technical paper will be necessary, along with a subsequent additional public comment period (i.e., second public comment period). Consistent with our Draft Guidance's finalization process, once both the peer review and public comment processes are completed, NOAA will evaluate how best to incorporate the Navy's methodology into the Final Guidance.

Additionally, based on comments received during the initial public comment period, NOAA has re-evaluated its methods for defining threshold usage based on sources being characterized as impulsive or non-impulsive. This proposed methodology will undergo a separate, third independent peer review. As a result, an additional public comment period will be held subsequent to both the second and third peer reviews (i.e., second public comment covers both additional peer reviews).

For more information, please see: .

ID: 43 Info. Type:  HISA
Estimated Initial Dissemination Date: 12/31/2014
Actual Initial Dissemination Date (because behavioral portion separated out): 2/4/2014
Estimated and Actual Second Dissemination Date: 6/1/2015
Estimated and Actual Third Dissemination Date: 6/15/2015
Estimated Dissemination Date of Final Work Product: 12/ 31/2015
Contact Person:Michael Liddel   NOAA Locator

Date First Posted in Peer Review Agenda:  12/16/2005

Estimated Peer Review Start Date: 7/5/2013 (first), 3/16/15 (second), 4/14/15 (third)
Review type:  individual letters
Expected number of peer reviewers:  4-10
Peer reviewers will be selected by:  a designated outside agency. The Marine Mammal Commission nominated peer reviewers for the initial and second peer review. The Acoustical Society of America's Underwater Acoustics Technical Council nominated peer reviewers for the third peer review.

Will the public, including scientific or professional societies, be asked to nominate potential peer reviewers? 
The Marine Mammal Commission nominated peer reviewers.

Will there be opportunities for the public to comment on the work product to be peer reviewed?  yes

How and when? Initial peer review: There was a 45 day public comment period that opened December 27, 2013 and closed March 13, 2014. Additionally, there was a public meeting/webinar held in Silver Spring, Maryland on January 14, 2014. Second and third peer reviews: There will be a second public comment period held subsequent to the second and third peer reviews (i.e., one additional public comment period to cover these two additional peer reviews).

Will the agency provide significant and relevant public comments to the peer reviewers before they conduct their review? no

Primary disciplines or expertise needed in the review:Initial peer review: Reviewers had expertise in acoustics, acoustics in the marine environment, acoustic ecology, behavior, and marine mammal hearing. Second peer review: marine mammal hearing and/or noise-induced hearing loss. Third peer review: Sound propagation and physical and operational source characteristics for impulsive sound sources (i.e., high explosives, seismic airguns, and impact pile drivers).

Comments on Peer Review:

The charge statement, peer review nomiations and reviewer credentials for the initial peer review

Initial Peer review report

Letter to second set of peer reviewers

Second peer review CVs, charge statements and peer review report:

Au: CV, charge statement

LePrell: CV, charge statement

Lucke: CV, charge statement

Terhune: CV, charge statement

Second peer review report

Third peer review CVs, charge statements and peer review report:

Burkard: CV, charge statement

Dahl: CV, charge statement

Reichmuth: CV, charge statement

Williams: CV, charge statement

Third peer review report

Final work product