This Is What Global Warming Sounds Like

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 3 2013 11:22 AM

This Is What Global Warming Sounds Like

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Temperatures in Death Valley National Park, Calif., threatened to hit a record 130 degrees in late June 2013.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

The music may sound classical, but this song could also be called “The Climate Change Blues.”

In this clever composition created by University of Minnesota student Daniel Crawford (with an assist from professor Scott St. George), you don’t just watch temperatures rise—you hear it. Each note in “A Song of Our Warming Planet” represents a year. As you would suspect, the higher-pitched notes indicate warmer temperatures. The video description explains:

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“During a run of cold years between the late 1800s and early 20th century, the cello is pushed towards the lower limit of its range. The piece moves into the mid-register to track the modest warming that occurred during the 1940s. As the sequence approaches the present, the cello reaches higher and higher notes, reflecting the string of warm years in the 1990s and 2000s.”

The music begins around 1:30. If temperatures get too much higher, it may be too hot for the cello to handle—kind of like when meteorologists had to create a new color for weather maps after an Australian heat wave.

Via IO9.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. Follow her on Twitter.