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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 5 June, 2020

Yes, scientists have proven that Ireland has got much quieter over the last two weeks

A new study shows that human-made noise has dropped since the Covid-19 restrictions were introduced.

Gardaí carrying out checks on O'Connell Street today.
Gardaí carrying out checks on O'Connell Street today.
Image: Leah Farrell/

STAYING INSIDE HAS certainly caused our cities and towns to become much quieter. But how much quieter? New research from Irish scientists suggests that “human-made” noise has dropped significantly since the government introduced sweeping restrictions to tackle Covid-19.

According to new data released by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, the level of seismic noise is up to three times lower than before the coronavirus measures were introduced. 

The findings for Ireland match the findings from other countries, as the states around the world introduce full or partial lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus. 

By using data from the Irish National Seismic Network and working closely with the Geological Survey Ireland, staff from the Dublin institute were able to track the changes to human-made ground vibrations. 

It shows that since people were warned by the government to stay at home, there was a major drop in seismic noise. 

On 12 March, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that all schools, colleges and public buildings would close in response to the virus. Days later on 27 March, the government announced a raft of restrictive measures introduced to tackle the crisis – asking the vast majority of people to stay at home except for essential reasons. 

Seismic Noise Graph - DIAS A graph showing the drop in human-made noise caused by the Covid-19 lockdown measures. Source: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

“Worldwide social restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic affect not only levels of air pollution, but also how much the ground beneath our feet vibrates,” said Dr Martin Möllhoff, Director of Seismic Networks at the institute. 

“With the current Covid-19 restrictions on human movement, INSN seismic noise levels have been markedly reduced.  In Ireland, seismic noise levels are now up to three times lower than they were before the restrictions were introduced,” he added. 

Professor Chris Bean, Head of the Geophysics Section and Director of the School of Cosmic Physics at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, said that “lowered seismic noise levels can enhance the capability of a seismic network to detect small earthquakes and are testament to the high levels of compliance with Covid-19 movement restriction”. 

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