Earth is Shrieking for Our Help, and We’re Beginning to Hear – Literally

University of Minnesota geography student Daniel Crawford presented one of his professors with an intriguing idea. Instead of using visual representations to disseminate information about climate change, why not use music? The result turned into a piece called “Planetary Bands, Warming World,” which became a hit for the budding scientist and for the university’s music department, according to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.


Instruments for Particular Zones

Each instrument in a string quartet stands for a particular zone of the planet’s northern hemisphere. The cello represents the equatorial zone, up to 24 degrees north latitude. A viola represents middle latitudes from 24 to 44 degrees north. Two violins match the high latitudes of 44 to 64 degrees north and the polar regions north of that area, according to this Vimeo video.

Temperature Data

The composition starts with the oldest weather data available to scientists 150 years ago. Temperatures change over time, and the quartet literally changes its tune as temperature data progresses to the present day. The pitch of each note tunes to the average annual temperature of a particular region. For example, a low note on the cello means the equatorial region had colder temperatures during a certain year. Contrarily, a high note on a violin means warm weather near the Arctic.

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The musicians start in 1880 as a harmonious bunch of temperature sets. The instruments play well together and the notes sound even, low and mellow. By 2014, discord takes hold, and climate change has created a harsh, high-pitched mess focused on the Arctic region. Professor Scott St. George of the university’s geography department says the music bridges the “divide between logic and emotion.” Instead of keeping the arts and sciences separate, Crawford’s climate change soundtrack helps people hear Earth’s temperature changes in a unique and emotionally compelling way.


The entire composition reduces more than 100 years of data into a nearly three-minute masterpiece. Anyone may support the project and spread the message by downloading the music from Ensia, either in sheet music form or as an audio file. You can also help end global warming by visiting our site to learn more about how to get involved.

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