How a University of Minnesota student set global warming to music

This is really cool — but disturbing.

University of Minnesota undergraduate student Daniel Crawford has made The New York Times with his unusual portrayal how much the planet has been warming.

His “A Song of Our Warming Planet” is an example of “data sonification.” He has converted global temperature figures into musical notes — and then played them on his cello.

Here’s the basic explanation from the video site:

Crawford based his composition on surface temperature data from NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies. The temperature data were mapped over a range of three octaves, with the coldest year on record (–0.47 °C in 1909) set to the lowest note on the cello (open C). Each ascending halftone is equal to roughly 0.03°C of planetary warming.

In Crawford’s composition, each note represents a year, ordered from 1880 to 2012. The pitch reflects the average temperature of the planet relative to the 1951–80 base line. Low notes represent relatively cool years, while high notes signify relatively warm ones.

The result is a haunting sequence that traces the warming of our planet year by year since the late 19th century.

You can read the Times blog post here.