Working together with an international project team, Empa’s acoustic specialists have developed a computer model which allows them to calculate noise levels along the entire Swiss rail network.
The Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) therefore tasked a team of scientists, headed by Kurt Eggenschwiler of Empa’s Acoustics and Noise Control Laboratory, with the development of a computer model to simulate noise levels along the Swiss rail network. sonRAIL, the name given to the model, was intended to provide not just noise maps but to calculate the sound exposure of individual buildings.
The Empa researchers need this data to calculate how noise propagates in the direction of nearby residents. The intensity of train noise depends on many factors such as the kind of train passing, its speed, whether cliffs or buildings reflect the noise, the construction of the track bed, the local topography, and – not least – the weather. Only if all these parameters are taken into account in the computer simulation it is possible to quantify the noise pollution levels accurately.To apply a model like sonRAIL for the calculation of acoustic emission levels along hundreds of kilometers of railway tracks and for the evaluation of noise propagation patterns at several tens of thousands of locations, a powerful computational system is required. At Empa the computer cluster «Ipazia» is available for this purpose, a system which not only provides high computational performance but more importantly, thanks to the cluster concept, allows parallel calculations on several processors.
Dr. Jean-Marc Wunderli | EurekAlert!
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