Lockdown-induced silence is a gift to scientists and wildlife

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Wikimedia Commons – Whale watching in Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, in pre-social distancing times Researchers are able to detect and measure things they could not before, while many species flourish amid the silence. The world has gone quiet in recent weeks. Busy highways that once rumbled with traffic and packed sidewalks that overflowed with fast-moving, chattering pedestrians have suddenly emptied out. There are fewer airplanes taking off, hardly any boats on the water, and no school buses to be seen. It seems as if the entire world has been put on pause, and, while the resulting silence may be eerie for some, it’s exhilarating for others. Many scientists are taking advantage of the sudden silence to do unprecedented research. Perhaps most interesting is that seismologists can now detect minute rumblings beneath the Earth’s surface that were previously masked by city sounds. Greek researcher and seismology professor Efthimios Sokos told Reuters that it’s like being an astronomer in a city where the lights have just been turned out. Researchers in Brussels, Belgium, have found the same thing. Following a national lockdown, urban noise dropped to a level equivalent to Christmas Day, making it far easier detect seismic activity. Paula […]

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