Listening to Nature: Analyzing Soundscapes in Yosemite National Park

Authors: Laurel Golden*, California State University, Long Beach
Topics: Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Anthropogenic noise, Sound recording, National Parks
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: President's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Yosemite National Park is one of the most visited national parks but unwanted noise intrudes into this natural place. Soundscapes have been described as total acoustic environment of an area, consisting of both natural and human sounds. Anthropogenic noise or human and machine-generated sound is one of the least understood and most common threats to the national parks. Transportation, energy development, infrastructure, and people all create unwanted noise in our natural areas. For many people, the national parks may be their only escape from the constant noise of the city. This research examines the sources of anthropogenic noise with the goal of recording a soundscape that will identify and quantify the sources of noise, map the sound and set a baseline for future research. To collect the sound in the area, the chosen method consists of recording sound in one to three hour increments in five locations in the Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite National Park. Additionally, field notations of sounds sources audible to the ear are recorded. Analysis of the recorded WAV files is conducted using Raven Pro 1.3 software which produces a visual representation of the recorded sound, both frequency range and amplitude. Using the analyzed data, sources of anthropogenic noise can be identified and quantified. Preliminary results from the sound recordings and field notations point to air traffic, from both high-altitude and small planes, posing the greatest threat to quiet once away from roads in the Tuolumne Meadows area.

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