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Making Climate Data Sing

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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.

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Making Climate Data Sing

  1. 1. Sing Buffe Institute at Northwestern | Northwestern University | February 9, 2016 MAKING CLIMATE DATA SING
  2. 2. VISUALIZATION
  3. 3. Source: Halley (1686) IN 1686, EDMUND HALLEY PREPARED THE FIRST KNOWN BIVARIATE PLOT DERIVED FROM OBSERVATIONAL DATA, RELATING BAROMETRIC PRESSURE TO ALTITUDE.
  4. 4. Source: Nightingale (1858)
  5. 5. DOT MAP BY JOHN SNOW SHOWING THE CLUSTERS OF CHOLERA CASES DURING THE LONDON EPIDEMIC OF 1852
  6. 6. KEELING CURVE
  7. 7. “HOCKEY STICK” Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2001)
  8. 8. 1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000 −.4 −.2 0. .2 .4 .6 .8 1.0 Annual Mean 5−year Running Mean Global Land−Ocean Temperature Index TemperatureAnomaly(°C)GLOBAL TEMPERATURE Source: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
  9. 9. SONIFICATION
  10. 10. THE GEOCODA PROJECT
  11. 11. If you really want to communicate with someone, it’s best not to show a graph, but to express something artistically. “ ” Commander Chris Hadfield November 12, 2014
  12. 12. Daniel Crawford University of Minnesota
  13. 13. Source: Toshiyuki IMAI
  14. 14. Source: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies TEMPERATURE ANOMALY FOR 2015
  15. 15. cello viola violin II violin I
  16. 16. Source: Miriam Mezzera
  17. 17. Source: Miriam Mezzera
  18. 18. THE MUSICAL ‘GEOGRAPHY’ OF OUR WARMING PLANET
  19. 19. 1880 2015
  20. 20. PLANETARY BANDS, WARMING WORLD DANIEL CRAWFORD
  21. 21. “ ” 1880s The aqueous vapour of the air absorbs a considerable amount of the heat which is being constantly radiated by the ocean… James Croll (1885)
  22. 22. “ ” 1890s … if the quantity of carbonic acid [CO2] increases in geometric progression, the augmentation of the temperature will increase nearly in arithmetic progression. Svante Arrhenius (1896)
  23. 23. “ ” 1900s For centuries these magnificent pines have stood there enduring all the vicissitudes of heat and cold, flood and drought. They should contain some record of such alterations. A.E. Douglass (1909)
  24. 24. “ ” 1910s The warming effect of a layer of clouds at night is commonly ascribed to radiation from the clouds, but it seems more likely to be due to radiation that is reflected back… W.N. Dines (1917)
  25. 25. “ ” 1920s Moreover, the amount of oil that can be sold locally is very small and it is necessary to export the greater proportion to distant countries… British Political Agent in Kuwait (1923)
  26. 26. “ ” 1930s The course of world temperatures during the next twenty years should afford valuable evidence as to the accuracy of the calculated effect of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Guy Callendar (1938)
  27. 27. “ ” 1940s While the individual day-by-day weather conditions are proverbially fickle, the climate remains fairly constant, at least within a human lifetime. Helmut Landsberg (1946)
  28. 28. “ ” 1950s The extra CO2 released into the atmosphere by industrial processes and other human activities may have caused the temperature rise during the present century. Gilbert Plass (1956)
  29. 29. “ ” 1960s A systematic variation with season and latitude in the concentration and isotopic abundance of atmospheric carbon dioxide has been found in the northern hemisphere. Charles Keating (1960)
  30. 30. “ ” 1970s Although there may no immediate cause for alarm about the consequences of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere, there is certainly need for further study. J.S. Sawyer (1972)
  31. 31. “ ” 1980s Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe to a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and the observed warming. James Hansen (1988)
  32. 32. “ ” 1990s [P]rojections of future global mean temperature change and sea level rise confirm the potential for human activities to alter the Earth's climate to an extent unprecedented in human history… Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (1990)
  33. 33. “ ” 2000s Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007)
  34. 34. “ ” 2010s The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. United States Department of Defense (2014)
  35. 35. 14 OF THE 15 WARMEST YEARS ON RECORD OCCURRED IN THE FIRST 15 YEARS OF THIS CENTURY.
  36. 36. EVERY REGION HAS GOTTEN WARMER. BUT THE ARCTIC HAS WARMED MORE THAN ANY OTHER PART OF THE PLANET.
  37. 37. GLOBALLY-AVERAGED TEMPERATURES IN 2015 SHATTERED THE PREVIOUS MARK SET IN 2014. 2015
  38. 38. THE GEOCODA PROJECT
  39. 39. 2013
  40. 40. 2015
  41. 41. 68
  42. 42. ?
  43. 43. STRAUSS’S PIECE IS IN NO WAY A LITERAL TRANSCRIPTION OF A HIKE UP A MOUNTAIN, IT’S AN IMAGINATIVE CONSTRUCT WHICH CAPTURES THE EMOTIONAL IMPORT OF THAT HIKE. THE CLIMAX ISN’T JUST HIGH IN PITCH, IT’S EXALTED IN FEELING. “ ” Ivan Hewi , Telegraph (London) August 30, 2013
  44. 44. @djspooky
  45. 45. 1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000 −.4 −.2 0. .2 .4 .6 .8 1.0 Annual Mean 5−year Running Mean Global Land−Ocean Temperature Index TemperatureAnomaly(°C)GLOBAL TEMPERATURE Source: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
  46. 46. HOWEVER, SOMETIMES CONVERTING A SIMPLE GRAPH INTO SOME DIFFERENT FORM OF INFORMATION CAN DELIVER THE MESSAGE FAR BETTER, AND MORE EFFECTIVELY THAN DOTS ON A PAGE. “ ” Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy July 18, 2013
  47. 47. Sing Buffe Institute at Northwestern | Northwestern University | February 9, 2016 MAKING CLIMATE DATA SING

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