You know what climate change looks like. Want to know what it sounds like?

We usually learn about climate change from things that look like this:

Image by Robert A. Rohde.


and this:

Chart by NASA (altered).

But what do a hundred years of temperature change sound like?

A geographer, a composer, and a group of musicians have given us a way to comprehend a changing climate through our ears.

Working with 135 years of temperature measurements, composer Daniel Crawford wrote a piece for a string quartet.

Each instrument represents a specific part of the Northern Hemisphere, with low notes representing cold years and high notes representing warm years.

The cello matches the temperature of the equatorial zone.


The viola tracks the midlatitudes.

Two violins complete the quartet, one following temperatures in the high latitudes...

...and one for the Arctic.

The creators decided to focus on the northern latitudes because that's where our planet's temperatures have really jumped. (Don't worry. They are working on another piece for the southern half.)

The music is telling us not only about the pace of climate change, which you can hear as the notes get higher over the measures, but also...

“Listening to the violin climb almost the entire range of the instrument is incredibly effective at illustrating the magnitude of change — particularly in the Arctic, which has warmed more than any other part of the planet."
— Daniel Crawford, composer

The composer says that for him, music is as scientifically valid as plotting lines on a graph.

He shows us how art and science work together to beautifully communicate about climate change. Take a listen.

Courtesy of Benjamin Faust via Unsplash
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