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Human Noise in the Wilderness

May 11, 2017

Human-produced noise is adding significantly to the ambience in national parks.



Our noisy wilderness. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

[nature sounds] Visitors come to national parks and other protected areas not only for their magnificent scenery, but also for their natural soundscapes: singing birds, water rushing over rocks, and wind in the trees. But those sounds now have competition from human-produced noise. In the journal Science, Colorado State University conservation biologist Rachel Buxton and her colleagues report analyzing a million hours of acoustic measurements taken from 492 sites. They found that in over 60% of the sites, background sound was at least double what it would be without human input.

RACHEL BUXTON (Colorado State University):

And sound at these levels impacts both the human experience in national parks and have a range of repercussions for wildlife.

The work could help pinpoint areas where noise reduction could have the biggest benefits. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon