Andrea Lynn, Writer
Andrea Lynn, Writer

Acoustics of the Arctic

Illustration by Sarah Nelson/SarahNelson.Art



I am interested in narwhals and noise. I wonder about the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances in the Norwegian/Svalbard narwhals' acoustic niche. 



The natural sounds in the narwhal's acoustic habitat, such as melting glaciers and sea ice, are incredibly loud but are likely familiar to the whales. This recording is of natural sounds below rafting ice floes at 79°41.36' N.


*If you listen closely, you will hear the songs of the bearded seals, and the voices of other Arctic creatures (these sounds are known as biophony—sounds produced by living organisms). 


I had the pleasure of working with composer and musician Ieva Baltmiskyte during our Arctic Circle Expeditionary Residency in 2022. From ice floes, glaciers, and frigid landscapes, we interrogated the issues facing the Arctic and our world. For Ieva's compelling, poignant composition, Requiem for a Glacier, I provided the biophony (sounds produced by living organisms) and the geophony (non-biological natural sounds produced in a habitat). This beautiful piece, which Ieva composed and performed while we were in the Arctic, captures our global predicament.