Jim Cummings, Executive Director and founder [BIO]
45 Cougar Canyon
Santa Fe, NM 87508
ph 505-913-7150 (voicemail only) fax 866-571-0416
If you are on deadline, please call my home phone: 505-466-6963
Mission Statement: The Acoustic Ecology Institute works to increase personal and social awareness of our sound environment, through education programs in schools, regional events, and our internationally recognized website, AcousticEcology.org, a comprehensive clearinghouse for information on sound-related environmental issues and scientific research. We hold a non-advocacy stance, preferring to focus on creating a context for understanding science research and policy debates.
AEI's website resources and our Special Reports and Spotlight Reports have garnered enthusiastic responses from top government agency staff, field researchers, journalists, and NGOs. A few of the kudos we've received:
- Thanks! That is not a trivial amount of information to have synthesized and boiled into a palatable packet. I will certainly pass it on.
Darlene Ketten, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
- I have downloaded the AEI annual report and have forwarded it on to fellow scientists interested in acoustics in NOAA. Thanks!
Ken Hollingshead, NOAA Office of Protected Resources, Permit coordinator
- Your annual review is great, as there are always a few things I've missed in there.
Mark McDonald, WhaleAcoustics
- Great work. May we put a link on the Ocean Mammal Institute website to this special report on the IWC meeting?
Joyce O'Neal, Ocean Mammal Institute
- Really impressed with what you've done.
John Hildebrand, Scripps Institute of Oceanography
- Your report is very helpful to have. Many thanks.
Sigrid Lueber, OceanCare (Swiss NGO)
- A first-rate resource, frequently updated.
CBC Radio One (web)
- Thanks for sending your Ocean Noise report. I find it very interesting and helpful and have forwarded it to some other people within NOAA. Please continue to send me things as you think of it and I look forward to keeping our dialogue going.
Brandon Southall, Director, NOAA Ocean Acoustics Program, National Marine Fisheries Service
- This is terrific. Thanks to the Institute for doing this. Please add me to your update list.
Ken Weiss, Los Angeles Times
The Acoustic Ecology Institute was founded in 2003 as a spin-off of EarthEar.com, a commercial environmental soundscape art catalog. It was incorporated in April 2004 and received approval as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization in June 2006. AEI provides access to news, academic research, public policy advocates, and articles and essays about sound and listening. These diverse threads of information and passion are designed to be of service to policy makers, the media, and interested individuals.
Our website, AcousticEcology.org, is an unparalleled resource for issue updates and reliable background information. The site features a News Digest, science summaries, Special Reports, and extensive lists of research labs and advocacy organizations on all sides of the issues.
Executive Director Jim Cummings is well-versed at helping to flesh out the shades-of-grey reality that is often rendered in stark black and white by interest groups on all sides of the story. [SEE BIO OF JIM CUMMINGS]
Backgrounder on Seismic Surveys at Sea - Seismic surveys using airguns, used to make loud sounds whose echoes can reveal oil and gas deposits beneath the sea floor, have gotten caught up in public concern about Naval active sonar injuring marine mammals. This backgrounder sketches the basics about airguns and seismic surveys, which do not have the clear association with marine mammal strandings that some sonars do, but remain major contributors to ocean noise.
Ocean Acoustics - An AEI online primer on the complexities that make intuitive understanding of sound underwater difficult for those of us used to air-based hearing. Includes sections on key topics, and links to other sites that explain ocean acoustics. [GO THERE]
Acoustic Ecology Institute Special Reports [GO THERE]
Moderately detailed overviews ("ten-minute versions") of key issues and events, including the International Whaling Commission work on ocean noise, snowmobiles in Yellowstone, naval sonars, and others.
Seismic Survey Reseach Summary
Commissioned from the Acoustic Ecology Institute in early 2004
Executive Summary with links to full report [GO THERE]
Download report: [DOWNLOAD(doc)]
More on AEI's work in the world
AEI is largely the work of one person, founder Jim Cummings. [BIO] AEI is not an advocacy organization; it’s an information and resource center, funded by donations from people who value clear information about current science findings and policy options. I am not an engineer or acoustician or scientist. I am an editor and writer who has become comfortable over the past 25 years with reading science journals, in-depth environmental impact statements, and “white” and “grey” literature reports from government agencies, trade organizations, and researchers. My expertise as an editor is in translating and synthesizing complex science and policy for a lay audience.
Since 2004, my work as the sole full-time employee of the Acoustic Ecology Institute has been focused on sound-related environmental issues, especially ocean noise and wind farm noise. Top agency staff, professional organizations, and academic researchers in the US and Canada consider me an honest broker of what is known about these often contentious issues: the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, US Navy, and US Department of Energy have all asked for my participation in expert committees and specialized symposia. I was guest-editor of a special double issue of the Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy on ocean noise, and was twice invited to be a plenary speaker at the biannual Alberta oil and gas industry noise control conference.
AEI Key Collaborative and Outreach Activities, 2004-13
- January 2004: Greenpeace USA released “Sonic Impacts,” a comprehensive report on the environmental effects of seismic surveys at sea; distributed to delegates at the UN Law of the Sea annual meeting. This report was written under contract by AEI and has become a primary source for environmental groups worldwide. [MORE]
- April 2004: Co-founded the American Society for Acoustic Ecology, the long-anticipated US affiliate of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology. AEI founder Jim Cummings elected first President of ASAE. [MORE]
- February-May 2004: Presented “Ears Wide Open” as part of Santa Fe public schools’ Partners in Education; 28 one-hour programs for classes and enrichment groups in grades 1 through 6.
- November 2004: Organized and moderated a panel on Ocean Noise at the 8th International Wildlife Law Conference (New Orleans, LA); participants included the Director of the Marine Mammal Commission, the head of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory marine science program, an NRDC lawyer, and an acoustician.
- February 2005: Collaborated with Western Soundscape Project (Boise, ID) to develop planning grant proposal for a library and museum-based western soundscape archive
- April 2005: Panelist at New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance conference, introduced Treasured Soundscapes of New Mexico.
- October 2004-May 2005: Organized an eight-event Acoustic Ecology lecture series, held at the College of Santa Fe. [MORE]
- May 2006: Presented a paper and sound installation at Sound, Environment, and Connective Technologies conference, University of California Riverside.
- June 2006: Featured speaker at Nature Sounds Society annual field weekend, Yuba Pass, California.
- May 2007: Invited plenary speaker at the Alberta Energy Utilities Board biannual noise control conference.
- Summer and fall 2007: Guest-edited a special edition of the Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy on the topic of ocean noise; pubication date, published as two issues.
- December 2007: Co-edited the 2007 volume of Soundscape, the journal of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology; issue theme: Soundscape Art, Science, and Environmental Activism.
- August 2008: Attended the Second International Conference on Acoustic Communication by Animals, presented talk on Science, Policy, and the Emerging Ethics of Ocean Noise.
- May 2009: Invited by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans to be a member of an expert panel convened to assess the effectiveness of Canadian mitigation practices addressing the noise impacts of seismic surveys on marine animals.
- May 2009: Invited plenary speaker at the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board biannual noise control conference.
- March 2010: Invited to submit an article to Renewable Energy World on wind farm noise concerns. [READ ARTICLE]
- April 2010: Participated in the Ocean Observatories Initiative science community workshop, Tempe, Arizona.
- May 2010: Plenary presentation at the 2nd International Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life conference, Cork, Ireland.
- July 2010: Invited presenter in the DOE-funded New England Wind Energy Education Project webinar on wind farm noise issues.
[SEE PRESENTATION] [SEE FULL WEBINAR]
- August 2010: Interviewed as part of a Renewable Energy World podcast on wind energy noise issues, seven minutes of airtime.
[READ ARTICLE/LISTEN TO PODCAST]
- September 2010: Cited in a New York Times cover story on wind energy noise issues [SEE ARTICLE]; letter to the editor published the following week (online) [SEE LETTER].
- October 2010: Poster presentation at the National Wind Coordinating Committee Wind and Wildlife meeting, Denver, Colorado.
- December 2010: Expert witness at a San Miguel County special hearing on their wind farm noise ordinance, Las Vegas, NM.
- February 2011: Invited to submit a piece to Renewable Energy World on the need for more flexibilty in setting community noise limits in different types of communties.
- June 2011: Invited to be a panelist at the DOE-sponsored New England Wind Energy Education Project conference (could not attend due to scheduling).
- February 2012: Attended AWEA Siting Seminar, Las Vegas, NV
- March 2012: Attended BOEM workshop, effects of noise on fish and crustaceans, San Diego, CA
- April 2012: Served on Renewable Energy World North America 2012 wind program subcommitee, Orlando, FL
- May 2012: Invited participant at NOAA meeting gathering stakeholder input on their new ocean noise mapping and cetacean distribution mapping programs
- May 2012: Invited participant at Joint Industry Project workshop on oil and gas industry research into effects of noise on ocean life
- December 2012: Presentation at Renewable Energy World North America, "Addressing Wind Farm Noise Concerns"
- May 2013: Invited presenter to wind turbine research teams at Sandia National Laboratory, Albuquerque, NM, and the National Renewable Energy Lab's National Wind Technology Center, Golden, CO
- August 2013: Presenter at the International Wind Turbine Noise conference, Denver, CO
Partnerships and Collaborations
AEI is engaged in ongoing dialogue and exchange of expertise with many other organizations, including NOAA/NMFS, National Park Service Natural Sounds Program, National Forest Service planners, Marine Mammal Commission, Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, NRDC, Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Energy, Chamber of Shipping of America, the US Navy, the Department of Energy, MassCEC, and researchers at academic institutions worldwide.