Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A new project is enlisting artists to listen to sound tracks of acoustic monitors in reefs and other ecological locations, so they can raise the alarm if anything sounds different.
World Science Festival: How music and science combine to monitor climate change
By Jessica McGrath Posted yesterday at 9:27am
Bubbling beakers and Bunsen burners are being traded in for drum machines, sound generators and music software at the World Science Festival in Brisbane.
Music researcher Dr Leah Barclay told the 100 Ways To Listen project that artists and scientists working together could unlock the secrets of climate change.
“The way we think about music and the way sound artists listen, can really influence and inspire how scientists are responding to climate change,” she said.
Recording sound from different environments, allowed music scientists to monitor climate change, by using hydrophones and binaural microphones that mimicked the same technology as the human ear.
“Dramatic changes in aquatic ecosystems can go unnoticed simply due to visibility,” said Dr Barclay, whose hydrology piece featured recordings of the world’s water systems collected over a decade.
This non-invasive technique called acoustic ecology enabled the researchers “to listen to an active and healthy reef and hear active fish and snapping shrimp” or the increased traffic of Humpback whales, she said.
Who needs quantitative physical measurements, when we can learn all we need to know about the climate, from the chatter of the snapping shrimp, or artists’ interpretation of whale songs?