IN researcher seeks "Acoustics of the Earth"

Purdue University researcher Bryan Pijanowski is collaborating with people from around the world for an Earth Day project, attempting to capture up to 1 million natural soundscape recordings. Photo courtesy of Purdue University/Tom Campbell.

By Mary Kuhlman

A global project based in Indiana is capturing the earth's acoustics, one upload at a time. Led by Purdue University ecologist Bryan Pijanowski, "Global Soundscapes Day" encourages people from all walks of life to record the soundscapes of their world, and upload them to be shared and preserved.

He says it doesn't matter if the sound comes from birds chirping outside or cars zooming down the street.

"We want to capture the world as it is right now," the ecology professor declared. "Are we making this world really noisy, or are there still a lot of sounds that make us happy and inspire us to think more about nature and protecting it?"

He says their goal is to capture up to a million recordings.

April 22 was the first Global Soundscapes Day and Pijanowski says they plan to also hold it on Earth Day in future years.

"We want to associate it with a day that's important to many of us that love the earth, and maybe after 10 years or even 20 years we'll have a really good idea of how the earth's acoustic environment is changing."

Pijanowski says a global research group is helping to connect with other groups all over the world who are participating in today's event.

"I'm also communicating with a lot of people via Twitter and Facebook, so we have a lot of people that are 'liking' us and uploading the data," he reported. "I'm looking at uploads occurring really all over the world. So, we're kind of getting the word out using social media and lots of other traditional means."

He is helping pioneer a research field aimed at preserving natural soundscapes and highlighting their role in alerting scientists and others to environmental habitat changes by species.

Soundscapes can be uploaded online at, where users also can listen to new recordings or the existing library of 500,000 natural soundscapes from sites ranging from Indiana to Costa Rica and beyond. Mobile soundscape recorders are available at iTunes and Google Play.


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