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The Humming of Marine Heat Waves

The Humming of Marine Heat Waves

“All of us in +ATLANTIC CoLAB love the ocean. Some love music. Some love poetry. Some love photography and video. And some of us love all of that and decided to combine our passions to bring you something different.” says Tiago Garcia, +ATLANTIC’s Communication Officer.

In early 2021, a couple of young researchers from +ATLANTIC working on ocean data about the sea surface temperature of the North Atlantic noticed how Marine Heat Waves (MHW) are becoming more frequent and longer, especially in the last few decades. According to Ana Oliveira, a +ATLANTIC researcher involved in the data processing and idealisation of this science communication action ‘’while the number of MHW days and events is increasing in the whole Atlantic basin, changes in the magnitude of the anomalies is particularly noticeable in the northernmost latitudes, which is particularly worrisome for ice melting and artic biomes‘’. The data and its derived graphics were clear: there have never been so many and stronger MHW events in this part of our global ocean.

A discussion on how to share such evidence began. Soon, the +ATLANTIC team realised that they had to do something beyond publishing a scientific paper – they wanted to reach out to a broader audience! To inspire people and call them to act.

“The data scientists recognized the graphic quality of the spatial-temporal patterns. The musician saw an opportunity to translate ocean data into music. The graphic designer immediately started to idealise a video animation. The communicator was sure something special was in the making and knew it had to be shown on a larger stage. We were on!” says Tiago Garcia from +ATLANTIC CoLAB.

For a few weeks, they worked together to convert their ideas into something they felt could appeal to those outside the marine sphere. They involved their families and friends to get feedback from non-experts. Once they saw the very first complete version, they decided to offer it to the All-Atlantic2021 Conference under the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, one of the larger stages they could have within the scope of their work. The organizers of the conference loved the idea and offered the possibility to premiere the video on a large screen in the main venue of the event, Teatro Micaelense, in Ponta Delgada, São Miguel Island, Azores.




The main segment of the music video shows the evolution of the North Atlantic’s sea surface temperature, namely the number of MHW events, from 1982 to 2020. The piano playing in sync with the data is a translation of the raw data into musical notes. What you are listening to is, in a certain way, the very own voice of the Atlantic, the humming of marine heatwaves.

As stated by Francisco Braga, the +ATLANTIC’s researcher/musician who converted the raw data into piano notes, “despite being a translation from data to music, this was not a direct process. We tried to create the link between emotions that reflect the severity of the data, and emotions conveyed by the music”.

During this creative process, the +ATLANTIC CoLAB team felt an introduction was needed, to set the tone for the main segment. Ideas were flowing. One of them wrote a poem out of the blue. They have nailed it and had the perfect intro. But who to recite it? If this was their gift to the All-Atlantic Initiative, why not invite one of the All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassadors? Done!

They hope you enjoy the video, the music, and the poem as much as they enjoyed combining their work and their passions to create something they (and we!) are very proud of. But let us be clear: no matter how much joy they had; we are talking about a serious problem affecting our ocean and impacting the whole planet in various ways. Their goal was to inspire and empower everyone to make a change, to choose wisely what and how you consume goods, eat, and live. Simply follow the All-Atlantic´s motto: connect, act, cooperate.


The +ATLANTIC CoLAB is a not-for-profit R&I Portuguese institution that develops projects and provides services related to various fields of marine science, ocean technology, blue economy, and ocean sustainability. Their multidisciplinary team mainly employs numerical modelling, remote sensing, data science, artificial intelligence, and space technology for these purposes. The geographical scope of their activity is the whole Atlantic Ocean basin, in full alignment with the Galway and Belém Statements and the overarching All-Atlantic Initiative. Find out more in their website ( and please follow us on LinkedIn ( and Twitter (