The Australian Acoustic Observatory (A2O) is a continental-scale acoustic sensor network, recording for a five-year period across multiple Australian ecosystems.
A2O will have approximately 400 continuously operating acoustic sensors collecting 2PB of sound data over the duration of the project. The project is funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grant of $1.8 million.
Why have an observatory?
The A2O will transform environmental science and assessment in Australia, and foster cross-disciplinary research between ecologists, biologists and computer scientists.
The observatory is collecting one of the largest terrestrial sound datasets in the world, recording audible species across multiple habitats, and providing high resolution spatial and temporal data.
A2O provides accessible environmental science data
The data is stored on the cloud with the Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation and made freely available to researchers, citizen scientists, and the general public.
- transform environmental science, including fauna survey and ecological assessment
- support cross-disciplinary research between ecologists, biologists and computer scientists
- inform citizen science projects
- assist in the development of call recognisers
- provide data for soundscape analyses
- aid in the exploration of acoustic methods.
A2O is leading collaborative research
The A2O is led by Professor Paul Roe from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Ecoacoustics Research Group, in collaboration with Professor David Watson from Charles Sturt University (CSU), Professor Lin Schwarzkopf from James Cook University (JCU), Associate Professor Paul McDonald from the University of New England (UNE), and Professor Richard Fuller from the University of Queensland (UQ).
The A2O Chief Investigators have a deep understanding of Australia’s fragile and mega-diverse environment, and the collection and interpretation of acoustic data, providing leading research expertise in this emerging field.
How it works
The A2O is a big data project
Not unlike astronomical observatories, the A2O collects large volumes of high-resolution data over time using a distributed sensor network.
These data are stored on the cloud and made available to researchers, citizen scientists, and the general public.
The A2O incorporates over 90 sites across seven major ecoregions.
Each site is linked to four acoustic sensors, with two acoustic sensors established in relatively wet habitat (wetland, river, creek, drainage line, spring, depression etc.) and two in relatively dry habitat. The range of wet and dry locations varies from site to site based on local conditions. This arrangement provides a total of 400 acoustic sensors across the network.
Acoustic sensors are built to specification by Frontier Labs in Brisbane, Australia. Each acoustic sensor stores data on high-capacity SD cards, which are manually collected and replaced at least once a year.
Acoustic sensors are powered by solar panels, with all equipment easily mounted on a standard 1.8 m star picket. This design ensures each acoustic sensor and additional hardware is simple to install and has minimal space requirements.