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Google Earth to get sound enhancement

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The sounds of the planet are to be linked to Google Earth to enable users to hear what a place sounds like, as well as what it used to sound like.

Bernie Krause has spent 40 years collecting the sounds, and his company Wild Sanctuary has accumulated over 3,500 hours of recordings, covering everything from the cracking of glaciers to midnight in the jungle.

The linking of binary files to locations is nothing new. GeoTagging allows any kind of file to have location data associated with it, and the Freesound project is accumulating sounds under the Creative Commons license, many of which are GeoTagged.

But the Wild Sanctuary archive is carefully logged and of consistent quality, as well as being tagged by time in addition to location.

This offers the potential for new insights, Dr Krause told the BBC: "For example, people are talking about how selective logging is an appropriate way of not harming the environment.

"But we have evidence that from the sound perspective, selective logging has a profound effect on the natural world. The pictures of before and after look exactly the same, but the sound is completely different."

The enhancement to Google Earth will be available for download following its launch at the Where 2.0 conference on 29 May. ®

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