The COVID-19 lockout incident reduced global human-induced vibrations by 50%
The absence of human activity during a time of lockdown causes human-related vibrations on Earth to drop by an average of 50% between March and May 2020.
This quiet period, possibly caused by the global impact of measures to create social distance, shutdowns of services and industry, and reduce travel and travel, was the longest quiet period. and the most pronounced seismic noise in recorded history.
New research led by the Royal Observatory of Belgium and five other organizations around the world including Imperial College London has shown that a reduction in man-made ‘seismic noise’ is more pronounced in people. more populated area.
The relative tranquility allows researchers to hear previously concealed earthquake signals and can help us distinguish between human noise and natural seismic noise more clearly than ever.
Co-author, Dr. Stephen Hicks, from Imperial’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering, said: “This quiet period may be the longest and greatest reduction in seismic noise caused by children. caused people since we started to track the Earth in detail using the vast seismic observation network.
“Our research uniquely highlights the extent to which human activities are impacting the solid Earth and can show us more clearly what distinguishes human noise than ever before. and natural noise. ”
The article is published today in Science.
Measured with an instrument called a seismometer, seismic noise is caused by vibrations inside the Earth, traveling like waves. Waves can be triggered by earthquakes, volcanoes and bombs – but can also be triggered by everyday human activities such as tourism and industry.
Although earthquake reduction has not been seen in 2020, the reduction of human-caused noise is unprecedented. The strongest drops were found in urban areas, but the study also found signs of locking down sensors buried hundreds of meters underground and in more distant areas.
Man-made noise is usually lessened during quiet times like Christmas / New Year and Chinese New Year as well as during weekends and overnight. However, the decrease in vibrations caused by COVID-19 lockout can measure eclipses even those seen during this time.
Some researchers call this drop in noise and human-caused (human-caused) pollution ‘human cause’.
“This is the first global study on the coronavirus’s impact on the solid Earth under our feet,” said Dr. Hicks.
To gather the data, the researchers looked at seismic data from a global network of 268 seismic stations in 117 countries and found that the noise was significantly reduced compared to before locking 185 of them. . Starting in China at the end of January 2020, and followed by Europe and the rest of the world in March to April 2020, researchers have been watching the ‘wave’ of cooling from March. to May when worldwide door lock measures are in place.
Strongest vibration reduction was seen in the most densely populated areas, such as Singapore and New York City, but the decline was also seen in remote areas like the Black Forest of Germany and the Rundu in Namibia. People’s-owned seismographs, which tend to measure more local noise, record a large drop around universities and schools around Cornwall, UK and Boston, USA – the level of 20% louder noise reduction than seen during the school break. Countries like Barbados, which closed to coincide with the tourist season, have reduced noise by 50%. This coincides with flight data showing travelers returning home for the few weeks before their official flight lockout.
Over the past few decades, seismic noise has steadily increased as the economy and population grow steadily.
The drastic changes to everyday life caused by the pandemic provide a unique opportunity to study their environmental impacts, such as the reduction in emissions and pollution in the atmosphere. The changes have also given us the opportunity to listen to the natural vibrations of the Earth without distorting human input.
The study reported the first evidence that previously concealed earthquake signals, especially during the day, appeared much more clearly on seismographs in urban areas during the lockout period. machine.
The researchers say silent door locks can also help them differentiate between human noise and natural signals that could warn of upcoming natural disasters.
Lead author Dr Thomas Lecocq from the Royal Observatory of Belgium said: “With the increasing rate of urbanization and increasing global population, there will be more people living in dangerous geological areas. Therefore, it will be more important than ever to distinguish between natural noise and man-made noise. ” so that we can ‘listen’ and better track the movements of the ground below our feet. This research can help launch this new field of research. ”
The study’s authors hope that their work will provide more in-depth studies of seismic lock, as well as uncover previously hidden signals from earthquakes and volcanoes.
“The door locks caused by the coronavirus pandemic may have given us an insight into how humans and natural noise interact in the Earth,” said Dr Hicks. This will create new studies that help us listen to Earth better and naturally understand the signals we missed. “