Shipping noise is globally pervasive and impacts marine species which rely on sound. International bodies including United Nations agencies, the Arctic Council, and the European Union are beginning to address the issue at the policy level, but better evidence is needed to map levels of underwater noise pollution and the potential benefits of management measures such as ship-quieting regulations. Crucially, corroboration of noise maps with field measurements is presently lacking, which undermines confidence in their application to policymaking. This paper constructs a computational model of underwater noise levels in the Northeast Atlantic using Automatic Identification System (AIS) ship-tracking data, wind speed data, and other environmental parameters, and validate this model against field measurements at 4 sites in the North Sea. To our knowledge, this is the first study to quantitatively validate large-scale modelled noise maps with field measurements at multiple sites. The results highlight areas where anthropogenic pressure from shipping noise is greatest and will inform the management of shipping noise in the Northeast Atlantic. The good agreement between measurements and model gives confidence that models of shipping noise can be used to inform future policy and management decisions to address shipping noise pollution.
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