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Weathered Time is a sonification, and the product of a collaboration by the New Century Improv! Ensemble at the University of Oklahoma and the National Weather Center to create a set of ''Climate Etudes'' based on Ice Core data provided by the national weather center.
Sonification, sometimes referred to as ''auditory display'', is the use of non-speech audio to convey information. Rendering data sets in this way as sound rather than traditional visual displays can take advantage of the ear's ability to detect subtle patterns or variations, or it can also be used to convey information in situations where an operator needs constant feedback on the status of a task, but cannot look away at a display, such as in surgery.
Weathered Time is an adventure through the climate history of our planet. The piece is driven by two data sets, Carbon (C) and Temperature (T). There is a third data set, Year(Y), which is used purely as a reference point for the listeners.
The Data moves forward at a continuous pace, as our planet's passage through time has been. This allows the listener to identify points of interest in the data sets. Carbon provides us a ''Climate Melody'' and Temperature generates both the fast-paced ''pings'' as accompaniment, as well as the low-register drones. As temperature rises or falls to its' extremes, so will it's pitch. The same goes for Carbon. Listen, as Carbon resonates more as it rises and falls with greater speed.
The piece opens and closes with the resonant frequency used to generate Carbon and, as the piece comes to a close, we hear the frozen, wind-sheered ice shelves of the Arctic Circle.
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The South Central Climate Science Center collaborated with the New Improv! Century Ensemble (N!CE) to sonify 400,000 years of atmospheric carbon dioxide and global average temperature data from ice cores and proxy data. N!CE is a student musical group in the OU School of Music that is made up of student composers and very adventurous performers, under the direction of Dr. Marc Jensen. The students worked with the data over the Spring 2015 semester, culminating in a performance of their pieces on Monday, April 20, at the National Weather Center's Biennale (http://www.ou.edu/content/nwcbiennale.html). N!CE was established in the 1990s as a venue for more experimental, open-ended music making. For the past year, the group has been focused on work with laptops as instruments for performance and more recently, the group has refined this focus to look specifically at data sonification. Since the dataset of carbon dioxide and global average temperature contained subtle variations and a large range of values, N!CE felt that sonification could provide a unique perspective on Earth's past climate. Sonifications run the gamut from very stark data representations, to musical compositions that become artistic interpretations of the source material. Most sonifications fall somewhere between these two poles, with some degree of artistic license balanced against some degree of clear data representation. The degree of interpretive freedom depends on the function of the work. Every member of the group was given the same data set to sonify: 400,000 years of carbon dioxide and global average temperature from ice cores and proxy data. The students were given this data with virtually no limitations in how to interpret it as sound, working together to craft approaches and share observations on the process. Many of the students focused on the strong correlation between carbon dioxide and global average temperature and the subtleties of which factor led or followed over rapid changes. Dr. Jensen also commented that a big take-home for the students was that ''the most striking thing that jumps out about Earth's climate history is how atypical warm climate periods have been.''