Urban Planning

Loud Enough?

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Science  12 Aug 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6044, pp. 803
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6044.803-a

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CREDIT: REDLINK/CORBIS

There's a lot to think about when you try to plan an urban expansion. Is there enough water, and infrastructure to pump it around? What about electricity? What traffic patterns work best? What will the balance be between housing and commercial real estate? Amid all of these considerations, one critical factor may fall by the wayside—how loud will it be? Noise pollution is a rather complicated function of the surroundings, and as a result it can be hard to model and mitigate. Of course, that's little consolation to the residents. In an effort to better forecast the noise implications of urban growth, Xie et al. adapt a land-use regression framework previously applied to modeling air pollution. Their geographical focus is Dalian Municipality in Northwest China, which currently hosts two million people. The model fits measured sound pressure levels as a function of different land-use allocations (such as industrial or residential) within successive buffer perimeters (from 20 m radius outward). Given promising overall results, the authors note that buffer sizes could potentially be optimized further and that future models could hone the time scale over which the forecasting is valid.

Environ. Sci. Technol. 45, 10.1021/es200785x (2011).

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