From acoustic engineers in Britain to marine biologists in Canada, researchers made the most of the drastic drop in noise from human activity
One of the few upsides of lockdown was that, if a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square, you had a chance of hearing it. City dwellers across the globe delighted in the silence, the freedom from the incessant rumble of traffic, and the joy of birdsong. How cleaner the air seemed, and how splendid the blue skies without their usual grid of aeroplane contrails!
Those memories might now be receding but for some scientists they were not just silver linings to a grim situation. The enforced experiment in which human activity was brought almost to a standstill created an opportunity to conduct studies that are normally impossible, in topics ranging from acoustics to atmospheric science to ecology. “We are being given an extraordinary experiment,” said climatologist Nicolas Bellouin of the University of Reading.