Map Shows Loudest and Quietest Places in the U.S.

noise-map
Dark blue areas are the most quiet, light yellow—beige the loudest. NPS NATURAL SOUNDS AND NIGHT SKIES DIVISION

Where is it quiet, and where is it loud? A map unveiled at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose, California, shows you where to go if you want a landscape without much racket.

It was produced by researchers from the National Park Service and elsewhere, who compiled 1.5 million hours of acoustic monitoring from around the country, Science reports. They then created an algorithm that predicted noise values for areas where sound wasn’t directly measured.

The map was made in part to see what areas may have ambient sound levels that could interfere with the survival of species like owls, which have sensitive hearing and require relative quiet to detect prey.

Areas covered in dark blue have noise levels below 20 decibels, which the researchers said is likely to represent an original “background” level of sound, probably quite common and widespread before Europeans arrived more than 500 years ago. That is about 1,000 times quieter than it is in many cities, where ambient noise can reach 50 or 60 decibels.