Purdue University

Global Soundscapes

Sounds are a perpetual and dynamic property of all landscapes, and as such, can be an important metric to examine the health and integrity of an ecosystem. With over half of the terrestrial surface of the Earth transformed by human actions, many of nature’s voices have been significantly affected. For instance, birds in urban environments have to sing at a higher pitch and volume than those in natural settings. In remote areas such as coastal Alaska, whale communication is being disrupted by the drilling rigs and underwater air-guns used to explore for fossil fuel reserves. A more subtle example highlights how changing soundscapes can serve as indicators of global change: the formerly rare sound of thunder in Fairbanks, Alaska is now a common occurrence due to the impact of climate change on weather patterns.