Does fog have a dampening effect on sounds?

14 June 2009

Question

Hi, I'd like to know whether the moisture in the fog can have a dampening effect for sounds? It always feels quieter on a foggy night than a clear night, and I wonder if it's due to ambient sounds being dampened.

Answer

Chris - It definitely does. Yeah, great question, Charles. The reason for that is the fog consists of tiny particles of water, which are suspended as little blobs in the air down at ground level and sound is the compression wave that travels through air. So, when the compression wave goes through the air, it's making air molecules vibrate and they're passing those vibrations from one to the next like a hand shake. If you put water molecules into air, it means that the water blobs can soak up the droplets or soak up some of the vibrations and this will attenuate or damp down quite literally (excuse the pun) the transmission of that sound through the air. So, fog does have a sound attenuating effect and the other reason why it might that when it's foggy, people tend to slow down too. So, people don't go out as much. They don't play games as much. They don't drive as much and as a result, you might see a reduction in the overall sound..

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