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Water Rhythms:
Listening to Climate Change


Water rhythms is a story of climate change told by ice and water. It is a story about the dualism of water, the universal connector of nature and humans. It is also an intergenerational story of the rapid change and depletion of our glaciers and freshwater sources worldwide.

Michele Koppes (Glaciologist, Geographer, Climate Scientist) and Susie Ibarra (Composer, Percussionist, Sound Artist), have been sonically mapping changes in glacier runoff from the source to the sink, from the glaciated mountains to the ocean, from some of the world’s most important water towers, including the Coast Mountains of the Pacific Northwest, the Greenland Ice Sheet, and the ndian Himalaya.

Press to begin video, Fridman Gallery 2021

Glaciers and ice sheets are the world’s water towers. Less than 3% of water on Earth is freshwater, and of this freshwater, 99% comes from the ice. As glaciers worldwide shrink and disappear in response to a warming world, the availability and quality of freshwater is being threatened for the billions of people and our more-than-human kin who live downstream. And as the ice disappears, these water rhythms are also shifting and fading from view. 


Humans are inextricably connected to the Earth’s freshwater; the same rhythms of glacial

meltwater that flow from the mountains to the sea flow through our bodies, our histories and our music. In recording the sounds of glacier melt, we discovered that these sounds were not simply ambient, but indeed very musical. They have precise rhythms, a precise tempo/bpm (beats per minute). These tempos match the sweet spot at which pieces of music from all over the world are created and played. They also match our heartbeats at birth. Our connection to water is hence so much more intimate than we think. A world losing its flowing freshwater is not only a world of increasing ecological precarity, it is a world losing its music, its culture and its humanity.

We invite you to listen deeply to the stories the water is telling us about a changing climate and a world of increasing ecological precarity.


Water Rhythms Installation and Listening Room  is a collaboration between composer, percussionist, and sound artist Susie Ibarra and glaciologist, geographer, and climate scientist Michele Koppes. Presented here for the first time as a 14.1-channel spatial soundscape, the sonic material is composed of field recordings of five global watersheds, from the Greenland Ice Sheet to glacier-fed rivers in the Himalayas and the Pacific Northwest, allowing visitors to listen to climate change. The installation is accompanied by a video collage of images, abstracted maps of these water towers and poetic descriptions of the project. Click here for a preview of Water Rhythms. 

IWater Rhythms is a sonic installation to be placed within an enclosed listening and meditation space. The space, minimum 20’ by 20’, encloses 14 speakers (or can be a stereo speaker) and comfortable lounge chairs or pillows to allow a limited number of people to sit in the listening space. The sonic composition runs on a 20-24 minute loop. The sonic installation is accompanied by a projected slide montage of images and text. 





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