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Arctic dreams

David Buckland Caspar Henderson Max Eastley
4 May 2005

In May 2003 I travelled to the far northern islands of Svalbard with a group of scientists, artists, musicians and writers. We went to look at the effects of climate change, which is happening in the Arctic faster than anywhere else (see here and here).

One of the most striking things for me was the sounds of the place, including those made by animals, whose future is increasingly uncertain as climate change gathers pace. I wrote:

“Through a hydrophone in the sea comes a series of long whistles that start high and descend, very gradually – ever so slowly – right down the scale. They sound like a cross between The Clangers and fireworks or artillery, but more gentle and sweet. It is bearded seals. This sound is suspended in a deep, vast, echoing underwater world, where crustaceans rustle and click in the far distance.”

You can hear some of those seals, recorded by the composer Max Eastley.

Click here to listen

You will also hear the sound of the Arctic wind, moderated through Aeolian flutes (simple tubes strapped to the rigging of the schooner Noorderlicht).

Click here to listen

And here too are photographs, taken in March 2005 by expedition leader David Buckland on his third journey to this ever-changing landscape.

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And here too are photographs, taken by expedition leader David Buckland in 2003 on his third journey to this ever-changing landscape in March 2005

This article appears as part of openDemocracy‘s online debate on the politics of climate change. The debate was developed in partnership with the British Council as part of their ZeroCarbonCity initiative – a two year global campaign to raise awareness and stimulate debate around the challenges of climate change.

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