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The sound of climate change

Two scientists have set the CO2 record at Mauna Loa – world’s longest-running measure of atmospheric carbon dioxide – to music.

In 1958, Charles Keeling became one of the first scientists to notice that heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas was building up in Earth’s atmosphere. When Keeling began measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide – at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii – the level was about 337 parts per million, up from the preindustrial levels of about 280 parts per million. Now it’s closer to 400 ppm, and still rising. Although some dispute it (read about the hockey stick controversy), the Keeling Curve is now widely accepted by virtually all climate scientists as a true record – and the longest continuous record – of atmospheric CO2. Now two University of Washington scientists have set the Keeling Curve to music. The result is a 90-second rendition of the primary cause of human-induced climate change. You can hear it by pressing play on the video above.

The video project was done by Judy Twedt, a UW doctoral student in atmospheric sciences, and Dargan Frierson, a UW associate professor of atmospheric sciences and amateur musician. Friers said:

The Keeling Curve [is] so important for climate change, and I don’t think people know that. If you understand the Keeling Curve, you kind of get the story of climate change.

Read more about the soundtrack from University of Washington

Read more about the Keeling Curve from Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Or watch the video below, which is from the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and also traces the history of the Keeling Curve.

Read more: How do we know more CO2 is causing warming?

Read more: Why does CO2 get most of the attention when there are so many other heat-trapping gases?

Bottom line: Two scientists at the University of Washington have set the Keeling Curve – the CO2 record at Mauna Loa and the world’s longest-running measure of atmospheric carbon dioxide – to music. Hear it here.

Deborah Byrd