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National Park Service Releases Map of Noise Levels Across America

Newsweek: “Where is it quiet, and where is it loud? A map unveiled at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose, California, shows you where to go if you want a landscape without much racket. It was produced by researchers from the National Park Service and elsewhere, who compiled 1.5 million hours of acoustic monitoring from around the country, Science reports. They then created an algorithm that predicted noise values for areas where sound wasn’t directly measured. The map was made in part to see what areas may have ambient sound levels that could interfere with the survival of species like owls, which have sensitive hearing and require relative quiet to detect prey.”

CBSNews: “The Natural Sounds project is creating an inventory of sound, taking long term noise measurements at 546 sites across the country, a total of 1.5 million hours’ worth. By combining these samples with information such as latitude and longitude, time of day and year, climate and moisture levels — wetter, more vegetative areas tend to be noisier than deserts — NPS researchers have created a comprehensive map of sound levels from coast to coast. In the map, which was presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the bright yellow areas around places like New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas represent noise levels of 50 decibels or more. Meanwhile the darkest blue regions, such as in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, are the quietest, staying below 20 decibels.”

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