Acoustics Explainer Series: What are noise contours?

18.12.2023 2 min read

Noise contours are a graphical representation used to illustrate the distribution and  of noise in a specific area.

Typically, they are presented in colour-coded maps, with each colour representing a different range of noise levels. The specific colours and decibel ranges can vary depending on the purpose of the project.

They are typically used in environmental studies, urban planning, and transportation projects to assess and manage noise pollution.

The contours are created by drawing lines on a map or plan that connect points of equal sound level. These lines, known as noise contour lines, represent areas with the same decibel (dB) level. The decibel scale is logarithmic, each contour line represents a constant increase or decrease in noise level.

The noise contours are derived from 3D noise models that consider various factors such as the type of noise source (e.g., road traffic, rail traffic, industrial activity, or air traffic), distance from the source, terrain and topography, and any existing environmental conditions. Noise measurements from locations around the site are used to inform the 3D model and generate the contours, the 3D model then considers factors that affect noise propagation, such as sound absorption and reflection.

Noise contours serve several purposes. They provide a visual representation of noise patterns, allowing stakeholders to understand the areas affected by different noise sources. This information is crucial for assessing the potential impact of noise on humans and wildlife. They also help in urban planning and land use management by identifying areas where noise mitigation measures may be necessary, such as constructing noise barriers, enhanced glazing, and façade attenuation, implementing zoning restrictions, or relocating noise sensitive activities.

Our award-winning acoustics team pride ourselves on listening to our clients, to deliver the service that they need. Our work in this area covers all stages of the project lifecycle, from initial desktop studies, to expert witness support at a public inquiry. As a responsive and personable team within Temple, we adapt our service to the needs of individual clients and we take time to understand what’s required before delivering. Please get in touch to see how our team can help you.

Key Contacts

Sam Logan Consultant - Noise & Vibration