A Purdue Univ. researcher is collaborating with partners around the globe for a special Earth Day experience on Tuesday, April 22, designed to capture up to 1 million natural sound recordings and upload them for preservation.
Global Soundscapes Day, led by Purdue ecologist Bryan Pijanowski, will shine the spotlight on the importance of natural soundscapes and the potential for growing research and encouraging middle school and high school students about the career potentials in this field.
"Our aim is to get people from all walks of life and from across the world to record their soundscapes and to answer questions related to how they relate to them," says Pijanowski, a Purdue professor of forestry and natural resources. "We hope to use these collected soundscapes from Earth Day 2014 to change the sound of public spaces, hospitals and other venues, replacing them with sounds that make us feel good, sounds that are peaceful and restful."
Pijanowski and his team have developed a series of applications for mobile devices and other technologies for soundscape recordings and research. To download the free Soundscape Recorder application, go to the Apple iTunes store or Google Play.
On Earth Day, people are encouraged to upload their recordings to the Global Soundscapes Day website. The ambitious Purdue project will require 10 terabytes of storage for the natural soundscape files collected in a single, 24-hour period.
"The recordings on Global Soundscapes Day will be stored at a Purdue database and geo-referenced so people can then listen to everyone's soundscape over the Web. People also have the option of taking pictures of the soundscapes or landscapes," he says.
At the Global Soundscapes website, users can map out their favorite soundscape sites, he says. They also can listen to new soundscapes or the existing library of 500,000 natural soundscape recordings from sites in Indiana, Costa Rica and elsewhere.
Pijanowski is helping pioneer a research field aimed at preserving natural soundscapes and highlighting their bellwether role in alerting scientists and others to vanishing environmental habitat changes by species.
"As I travel around the world, visiting remote nature parks, it is quite apparent to me that the quality of natural sounds is decreasing as habitats are degraded and animals go extinct. Sadly, we also are replacing these sounds with those made by humans, as noise from planes and cars penetrate deep into wild places on this planet."
In advancing these efforts, Pijanowski in recent years has received $3 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, Purdue's Office of Vice President for Research, Discovery Park, Purdue's Center for the Environment, the Envision Center, Information Technology at Purdue (iTAP) and other partners.
Purdue's Center for the Environment in Discovery Park funded a seed project in 2006 to support ecological acoustics research at Purdue and to develop a prototype acoustic observation system. This was used to demonstrate the capacity for obtaining acoustic measurements to quantify and interpret biological activity across a landscape.