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Influence of visibility of wind farms on noise annoyance – A laboratory experiment with audio-visual simulations

Schäffer, Beat, Pieren, Reto, Wissen Hayek, Ulrike, Biver, Nadine, Grêt-Regamey, Adrienne
Landscape and urban planning 2019 v.186 pp. 67-78
acoustic properties, farms, laboratory experimentation, landscapes, planning, wind farms, wind turbines
Noise annoyance reactions in the population due to wind farms are related to visual as well as noise-related impacts of the farms. Improved understanding of these effects may support the planning of better accepted wind farms. Recently, tools for visualization and auralization of wind farms have been developed that allow mutually studying audio-visual effects on annoyance. The objective of this study was to investigate the audio-visual effects of different wind turbine noise situations on short-term noise annoyance in a psychophysical laboratory experiment, considering serial position effects (simple order and differential carryover effects). A set of 24 audio-visual situations covering a range of acoustical characteristics (sound pressure level, periodic amplitude modulation) and visual settings (landscape with visible wind turbine, landscape only, grey background) was created. The factorial design of the experiment allowed separating audio-visual effects from serial position effects on noise annoyance. Both visual and acoustical characteristics were found to affect noise annoyance, besides the participants’ attitude towards wind farms. Sound pressure level and amplitude modulation increased annoyance, the presence of a visualized landscape decreased annoyance, and the visibility of a wind turbine increased annoyance. While simple order effects could be eliminated by counterbalancing, the initial visual setting strongly affected the annoyance ratings of the subsequent settings. Due to this differential carryover effect, visual effects could be assessed reliably only as long as the participants saw the initial visual setting. Therefore, the presentation order of audio-visual stimuli should be carefully considered in experimental studies and in participatory landscape planning.