Spectral probability density as a tool for ambient noise analysis

Nathan D. Merchant*, Tim R. Barton, Paul M. Thompson, Enrico Pirotta, D. Tom Dakin, John Dorocicz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the empirical probability density of the power spectral density as a tool to assess the field performance of passive acoustic monitoring systems and the statistical distribution of underwater noise levels across the frequency spectrum. Using example datasets, it is shown that this method can reveal limitations such as persistent tonal components and insufficient dynamic range, which may be undetected by conventional techniques. The method is then combined with spectral averages and percentiles, which illustrates how the underlying noise level distributions influence these metrics. This combined approach is proposed as a standard, integrative presentation of ambient noise spectra. (C) 2013 Acoustical Society of America

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)EL262-EL267
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • ocean


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