Vis-a-thon 2020

Sound of the Bay

Jonny Benoit

Undergraduate, Brown University


Rafael Attias

Jonny Benoit works with a computational model of Narragansett Bay in Baylor Fox-Kemper’s lab at Brown University. These model outputs are used to make temperature and salinity maps of the bay. To visualize the model they have of the bay, Benoit plots the model outputs using Matlab, Python and creates videos of the model running (over many months) in temperature and salinity. He also uses coding to visualize where certain buoy stations are on this plot and then creates secondary plots comparing these buoy observations to the model outputs for these locations.

Jonny Benoit, Initial Proposal Note

Transformation of the daily-averaged temperature data of Narragansett Bay in 2018 into audio. The audio files were created through the sonification of daily-averaged temperature data in Narragansett Bay from five sensors run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).

The Daily-Averaged Temperature Data Capture Stations in Narragansett Bay, 2018

Five Stations Clockwise From Top Left: Providence, Conimicut Light, Fall River, Quonset Point, Newport

The temperature data collected from the five stations in the bay turned into a unique tone of sound made by normalizing it to the keys on a piano (using pentatonic scales). Each note represents the temperature averaged over a day and the pitch from each of the different voicings is based on that temperature value.

Process Overview

Left: Narragansett Bay Buoys Data, 2018 Right: Screencapture of Ableton. The daily-averaged temperature data in Narragansett Bay is transformed to audio in Ableton.

Final Sound Pieces


E Flat Major Two Tones

C Major TwoTones Slow 2018

Strings Plus Glock


Sound of the Bay, Sound and Patterns of January 2018

Sound of the Bay, Final Video, 2018

You can hear a difference from the winter data at the beginning of the clips and summer data towards the middle in both the overall pitch and how the buoy temps relate to one another.

Tools Used in the Project

Ableton Excel Matlab TwoTones Music Algorithm


© Sound of the Bay, 2020

This material is based upon work supported in part by the National Science Foundation under EPSCoR Cooperative Agreement #OIA-1655221.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.