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These visuals were prepared to support a string quartet performance and panel on climate change at Northwestern University in February 2106.
A well-designed graphic can help audiences to quickly understand the main message embedded within a complex set of climate data and to retain those ideas longer than they would have if they were conveyed by words alone. But the visual aids used regularly by climate scientists also have their limitations: they are most easily understood by people who are already fluent in technical illustrations; they're usually static and sometimes do not tell an obvious story; and for many, they don't elicit a strong emotional response.
Music, by contrast, is inherently narrative and is known to exert a powerful influence on human emotions. Because of this, sonification — the transformation of data into acoustic signals — may have considerable promise as a tool to enhance the communication of climate science.
Daniel Crawford and Scott St. George report on a collaboration between scientists and artists that uses music to transmit the evidence of climate change in an engaging and visceral way.