What does climate change sound like? In 2013, researchers at the University of Minnesota released a composition for cello called ‘A Song Of Our Warming Planet,’ which linked temperatures gathered over the past 133 years to musical notes. Instead of seeing a graph or imagining the outcomes of climate change, people could listen to it.
This year, the same collaboration between student Daniel Crawford and geography professor Scott St. George has resulted in a new composition. The song captures the same time period, but adds more nuance, featuring a string quartet playing the temperatures of different regions of the northern hemisphere. The researchers chose to focus on 4 areas: the tropics, the mid-latitudes, high latitudes, and the Arctic, with each swath of the world represented by a different member of the string quartet. Lower notes correspond to lower temperatures, and higher notes to higher temperatures.
The music starts out fairly low and dissonant in the year 1880. As the quartet continues, the notes get higher and higher, ending with an eerie shriek of the strings. It is moving, and shows very clearly that we’re moving in the wrong direction.
Listen to the recording below. If you prefer a more hands-on approach, you can also download the sheet music and recording from their website.