EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Earth System Music: music generated from the first United Kingdom Earth System model

Lee de Mora1, Alistair Sellar2, Andrew Yool3, Julien Palmieri3, Robin S. Smith4,5, Till Kuhlbrodt4, Robert J. Parker6,7, Jeremy Walton2, Jeremy C. Blackford1, and Colin G. Jones8
Lee de Mora et al.
  • 1Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Marine Systems Modelling, Plymouth, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (
  • 2Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK
  • 3National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
  • 4National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 5University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 6National Centre for Earth Observation, Leicester, UK
  • 7University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  • 8National Centre for Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

With the ever-growing interest from the general public towards understanding climate science, it is becoming increasingly important that we present this information in ways accessible to non-experts. In this pilot study, we use time series data from the first United Kingdom Earth System model (UKESM1) to create six procedurally generated musical pieces and use them to explain the process of modelling the earth system and to engage with the wider community. 

Scientific data is almost always represented graphically either in figures or in videos. By adding audio to the visualisation of model data, the combination of music and imagery provides additional contextual clues to aid in the interpretation. Furthermore, the audiolisation of model data can be employed to generate interesting and captivating music, which can not  only reach a wider audience, but also hold the attention of the listeners for extended periods of time.

Each of the six pieces presented in this work was themed around either a scientific principle or a practical aspect of earth system modelling. These pieces demonstrate the concepts of a spin up, a pre-industrial control run, multiple historical experiments, and the use of several future climate scenarios to a wider audience. They also show the ocean acidification over the historical period, the changes in circulation, the natural variability of the pre-industrial simulations, and the expected rise in sea surface temperature over the 20th century. 

Each of these pieces were arranged using different musical progression, style and tempo. All six pieces were performed by the digital piano synthesizer, TiMidity++, and were published on the lead author's YouTube channel. The videos all show the progression of the data in time with the music and a brief description of the methodology is posted alongside the video. 

To disseminate these works, links to each piece were published on the lead author's personal and professional social media accounts. The reach of these works was also analysed using YouTube's channel monitoring toolkit for content creators, YouTube studio.

How to cite: de Mora, L., Sellar, A., Yool, A., Palmieri, J., Smith, R. S., Kuhlbrodt, T., Parker, R. J., Walton, J., Blackford, J. C., and Jones, C. G.: Earth System Music: music generated from the first United Kingdom Earth System model, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-7267,, 2020.


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