Listen to the Earth smash another global temperature record

Federal science agencies announced Wednesday that 2016 was the warmest year on record, beating the previous global temperature record set in 2015, which itself had beat the previous record set in 2014. Now atmospheric scientists at the University of Washington have set the new temperature record to an electronic dance beat.

This is their second project to convert scientific data to an audio track, a process known as sonification.

The notes represent global temperature observations compiled by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 1880 to the just-released 2016 data. Each note is the yearly average of temperatures during that year. For about a century, the notes wobble around. Then the music pauses in 1977 for some narration.

“We picked 1977 for two reasons,” said co-creator Dargan Frierson, a UW associate professor of atmospheric sciences. “First, that is when global warming really kicked in. Also that’s the year Exxon scientists told their management that CO2 from fossil fuels is the main way humans cause climate change.”

Read more at UW Today »