In the UK the cause of amplitude modulation (AM) and the ability to predict its occurrence is considered abstruse by many. Few have experienced or measured AM and yet conclusions are frequently made asserting that it is rare and that any action to counter its effects is limited by minimal knowledge surrounding its nature and cause. This paper aims to advance current knowledge and opinion of AM. Methods used to successfully investigate AM are confirmed. AM should be measured during evening (after sunset), night time or early morning periods. Meteorological effects, such as atmospheric stability, which lead to downward refraction resulting from changes in the sound speed gradient alter the character and level of AM measured. AM is generated by all wind turbines including single turbines. Propagation conditions, mostly affected by meteorology, and the occurrence of localised heightened noise zones determine locations that will be affected. Measurements from eleven wind farms have been presented and discussed in relation to current research and theory. Findings confirm that AM occurrence is frequent and can readily be identified in the field by measuring under suitable conditions and using appropriate equipment and settings. Audible features of AM including frequency content and periodicity vary both within and between wind farms. Noise character can differ considerably within a short time period. The constant change in AM character increases attention and cognitive appraisal and reappraisal, inhibiting acclimatisation to the sound. It is advised that those responsible for approving and enforcing wind energy development improve their understanding of the character and impact of AM. This can be achieved by attending a listening room experience which has been trialled and is discussed in this paper.
Mike Stigwood, Sarah Large and Duncan Stigwood
MAS Environmental Ltd, Cambridge, UK
Presented at the 5th International Conference on Wind Turbine Noise, Denver, 28-30 August 2013