National Park Service Map Shows The Loudest, Quietest Places In the U.S.

There’s a new map created by the National Park Service’s (NPS) Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division that shows where the country’s loudest—and quietest—places are located. Not surprisingly, the loudest spots are clustered around cities, while the quietest are relatively wild–but the map also shows that even some rural locations have fallen victim to sound pollution.

The map represents 1.5 million hours of sound data from 546 park sites around the country. After recording sound levels at the sites using sound meter gauges, the NPS scientists used computer modeling to extend their findings across the entire country. The quietest places on the map, like Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, have a background noise level of less than 20 decibels—a noise level similar to that of the areas before European colonization. Urban areas, represented on the map in yellow, have background noise levels much higher—sometimes upwards of 60 decibels.

Sound pollution does more than disrupt a hiker’s sense of solitude in National Parks—it can alter the Park’s wildlife. According to CityLab, certain species have been shown to avoid noisy places, and sound pollution can disrupt certain animals’ mating cycles. But sound and light pollution don’t have to permanently alter the U.S.’s wildest areas. “Unlike many other forms of environmental degradation,” Fristrup told CBS News, “sound and light offer opportunities for rapid improvement.”

See the map…


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