Capturing the heartbeat of a river is no simple task, but that’s what Graham Strickert of the University of Saskatchewan is doing by turning hydrological change into sound.
Strickert starts with a graph that shows how much water has flowed through the Saskatchewan River every year over the past hundred years. If you look closely, you notice a distinct turning point: Where previously there were regular highs and lows, the pattern is now irregular. The high points are no longer as high, lows not as low, and these points are no longer occurring regularly. The natural variability has changed. Strickert has turned this graph into sound using a program called Photosounder 1.9.0. Put on a pair of headphones, and it is like you are listening to the river’s heartbeat through a stethoscope. What starts as a steady pulse turns into a heartbeat with an arrhythmia or irregularity.