Polar Sounds is a collaboration between Cities and Memory, the Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity (HIFMB) and the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI).
The sound clips chosen for the project were recorded from hydrophones located in the Arctic and Antarctic seas and consist of a mixture of biotic, geophonic and anthropogenic sounds.
Taking the world of polar sounds to an entirely different place, each recording has been reshaped and reimagined as a creative composition by more than 100 musicians and sound artists from all over the world, in turn reflecting on the memories and feelings those sounds evoke as they think back to hearing them throughout their lives.
The project documents not just the sounds of life at the ends of the Earth, but also urges us to consider the fragility of our polar ecosystem in the face of the climate crisis. With Earth’s poles warming faster than the global average, this collection of sounds aims to draw attention to a fascinating but rapidly changing environment, and encourages us to think about ways to preserve it for future generations.
Out of all the senses, sound is the one that travels the furthest in the oceans. Because of this, acoustic methods are becoming a critical tool that scientists are using to better understand the Polar seas and the marine biodiversity within.
When sight is impossible, acoustic data can give scientists invaluable information on breeding habits, migration patterns and the ways in which human-made noise negatively affects marine environments.
The collection includes:
- Rare recordings of whale song including blue whales, fin whales, bowhead whales and sperm whales
- Odontocete species including sperm whales, killer whales, dolphins and narwhals
- Seal species including the Weddell seal, leopard and crabeater seals and little-studied Ross seal
- Anthropogenic arctic sounds – seismic surveying guns and ship noise
- The awe-inspiring sounds of crashing glaciers and singing sea ice
- Mysterious unidentified sounds.