• Climate data | Climate music

    When climate science is communicated to the broader public, many of its key findings are shared in the form of conceptual diagrams or information-dense data graphics. Although those tools can be effective, they do not always offer the best way to reach every audience.


    Planetary Bands, Warming World is a new composition for string quartet that uses music to create a novel, visceral, and memorable encounter with weather data collected across our planet.

    We know the Earth is warming. But some places have warmed up faster than others. Our changing climate is often illustrated with maps like this one from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. But visual representations are not the only way we can chart the geography of global warming. My name is Dan Crawford and I’m a student at the University of Minnesota. I’ve been working with Dr. Scott St. George, who’s a professor in the Department of Geography, to turn climate data into climate music. Our newest composition is called “Planetary Bands, Warming World’. It’s written for string quartet and uses all four instruments to describe the pace and the place of global warming. We’ve asked students from the University of Minnesota’s School of Music to perform the piece, and also to help explain how we turned 135 years of thermometer measurements into music.
    Each instrument represents a specific part of the Northern Hemisphere. The cello matches the temperature of the equatorial zone. The viola tracks the mid latitudes. The two violins separately follow temperatures in the high latitudes and in the arctic. The pitch of each note is tuned to the average annual temperature in that region. So a really low note on the cello means the equatorial zone was cold that year. And a high note on the violin means warm weather stretching across the arctic. When we blend the four instruments, the four regions, together, you’re able to hear quite clearly, how temperatures fluctuate across the planet, ranging from the equator to the North Pole. And if we start the performance in 1880 and end it at the present, you can hear how much temperatures have increased and what places have warmed the most.
  • News stories

    Since its 2013 release, the video for A Song of Our Warming Planet has been watched on Vimeo more than 150,000 times, with another 15,000 views from YouTube. The video for Planetary Bands, Warming World has attracted more than 34,000 views since May 2015. People in the United States made up the largest fraction of the audience for both videos, but they have also both attracted a substantial international viewership, which suggests that science communication through music may be capable of transcending barriers due to language. These compositions have also been performed live by musicians in the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands, and in some instances have been reinterpreted to fit other instruments or themes. 

    Streichquartett fasst 133 Jahre Erderwärmung zusammen

    "Daniel Crawford sieht "Planetary Bands, Warming World" als Ergänzung zur gängigen Verdeutlichung des weltweiten Klimawandels durch Diagramme und sonstige Visualisierungen."

    This Song Is Composed From 133 Years of Climate Change Data

    "Through music, we can convey the data in a different way, which draws on the science of the numbers and also the emotional power of hearing sound."

    Der Sound des Klimawandels

    "Es ist ein extrem wichtiges Thema - und doch interessiert sich kaum jemand wirklich für den Klimawandel."

    U Students Play The Music of The Warming Spheres

    "Five University of Minnesota students are receiving national attention for that composition, especially Dan Crawford, a graduating senior who translated the global temperature data into music and put the project together."

    Así Suena el Calentamiento Global

    "Ahora, los co-creadores de ese video, el estudiante de posgrado de la Universidad de Minnesota Daniel Crawford y el de Geografía, Scott St. George, realizaron una nueva composición para señalar los lugares donde el clima está cambiando de forma más rápida."

    Musical Composition Conveys Climate Change Data

    "Crawford hopes to reach a broader audience by offering a new way to absorb the data through music, which Morrison said could be effective. An audience can process the pitch of notes and how they change “in the fraction of the time it takes someone to say something,” he said."

    Now You Can "Hear" Climate Change

    "Want a visceral sense of how much temperatures around the Northern Hemisphere are deviating from average? Well, have a listen."

    Watch: Musicians Use NASA Data to Create a Soundtrack for Climate Change

    "We often think of the sciences and the arts as completely separate—almost like opposites, but using music to share these data is just as scientifically valid as plotting lines on a graph."

    These Composers Put Climate Change Across The Globe to Music

    "If you don’t get emotional from listening to string quartet music already (what? gets me every time), you’ll definitely be getting major goosebumps when you hear the cadence — and eventual crescendo — of climate change across the globe."

    The Sounds of Climate Change: A Vital Melody

    “Listening to the violin climb almost the entire range of the instrument is incredibly effective at illustrating the magnitude of change — particularly in the Arctic which has warmed more than any other part of the planet.” 

    Tek bir şarkıda 133 yılın iklim değişikliğini dinleyin

    "NASA’nın Uzay Çalışmaları Goddard Enstitüsü‘ndeki verileri kullanarak yaptıkları “Planetary Bands, Warming World” kompozisyonu, dünyanın farklı bölgelerinde iklimin nasıl değiştiğini anlatıyor."

    A Minnesota Quartet, Tuned to Temperatures from the Equator to the Arctic, Performs Global Warming

    The University of Minnesota’s environmental magazine Ensia has posted on the latest effort by a cello-playing undergraduate, Daniel Crawford, and the geographer Scott St. George to create musical compositions reflecting aspects of global climate change.
  • Music

    Audio recording

    Planetary Bands, Warming World

    Composition by Daniel Crawford. Performance by Julian Maddox, Jason Shu, Alastair Witherspoon, and Nygel Witherspoon. Recorded at Northrup by Elizabeth Giorgi.


    Planetary Bands, Warming World

    Planetary Bands, Warming World by Daniel Crawford is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

  • Contact information

    Inquiries regarding 'Planetary Bands, Warming World' may be directed to either Mr. Crawford or Dr. St. George.

    Dan Crawford
    Prof. Scott St. George