Bureau of Ocean Energy Management - Exploring the Connectivity Among Offshore Wind Turbines.
Exploring the Connectivity Among Offshore Wind Turbines
Offshore wind turbines along the U.S. Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) introduce hard substrate into an environment that is usually composed of soft sediment. These structures also provide vertical habitat through the entire water column. As has been observed for all artificial structures introduced in the marine environment, marine growth is rapid, and a complex habitat is formed. Specifically for wind facilities, researchers in Belgium have observed a rapid succession of marine life over a ten-year period (Kerckhof et al. 2019). Besides the reef effect from encrusting organisms, fish species are often attracted to these structures. One concern raised is whether the proximity of structures is additive and, as such, results in a restructuring of the ecosystem at larger scales than just the immediate vicinity of the turbine. In other words, is there connectivity between the turbines for mobile species such as fish? Although the Gulf of Mexico has thousands of oil and gas structures, and in some locations, there are clusters or large groupings of structures, changes to the environment have focused on alterations at individual structures. In the Pacific, oil and gas structures are studied in relation to nearby natural reefs for comparisons. Unlike solitary oil and gas wells or artificial reefs created with a single vessel, offshore wind facilities are composed of large groups of structures (100s of structures) within close proximity. The purpose of this study is to determine if there is an additive effect on fish from multiple structures in an offshore wind facility. Is there connectivity for some species between turbines and does this result in a larger impact to ecosystems than if impacts are localized to an individual turbine? Answering this question will improve our understanding regarding the ecosystem interactions with offshore wind facilities on fish resources.
Public and State controlled institutions of higher education.
Eligible institutions are limited to state academic institutions adjacent to current project areas along the U.S. Atlantic coast from Maine to North Carolina.
Total Amount Available:
July 18, 2022
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