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Earth Day: Scientists want your help to record what Earth sounds like on a single day

From rainforests to urban sprawl, soundscape ecologists are hoping to collect snippets of ambient sound from around the world using smartphones
  • @jjvincent

Today scientists are undertaking a global effort to record what the world sounds like over a period of 24 hours – and they want your help.

Using your smartphone you can download an app courtesy of the Global Soundscapes project and record a few minutes of audio from your surroundings, helping researchers by tagging your recording with what you can hear and how it makes you feel.

The project itself is dedicated to collecting these snippets of ambient audio from all around the world, covering the great range of the world’s soundscapes from the hoots and warbles of a rainforest in Borneo to the static thrum of a big city.

The project is being led by Professor Bryan Pijanowski, a soundscape ecologist from Purdue University in the US who say that his aim is to “get people more connected to their soundscapes”.

“Natural soundscapes are being lost at an alarming rate,” Professor Pijanowski told The Independent. “We need increased awareness of this fact and need to capture the few remaining natural soundscapes.”

As well as the project’s archival importance, the analysis of soundscapes can also help scientists measure key metrics of biodiversity. In his work as a soundscape ecologist Professor Pijanowski often use recordings from wild habitats to detect “acoustic gaps” – absences in the audio hubbub that are indicative of missing or misplaced species.

The analysis of soundscapes also has relevance for people living in urban areas as well. “the sounds that occur in cities is now approaching levels that are unhealthy for humans,” explains  Professor Pijanowski .

“We need to reduce our noise footprint which is reaching near complete global coverage and we also need to connect more to nature and one very positive way to do that is through our ears.”

So if you’re interested in becoming a citizen scientist for one day – or if you’re just curious to see what else other people might be recording then click here to download the Soundscape app for iOS devices and here to get it on Android.