Sounds of water environments under stress [09:30, 17/10/2023]

When: 9:30-10:30am 17 October 2023 
Where: ECA West Court, 74 Lauriston Place Edinburgh
What: A panel and presentation with Dr Eleni-Ira Panourgia and Professor Karen Mair 

UNESCO week of sound events are free, book a ticket

About this panel

The sounds of flowing water are very familiar and often perceived as calming and relaxing, however as climate changes stress our environment, extreme events such as storms, floods and droughts are becoming more frequent and our acoustic environment is changing irreversibly. 

In this panel, we will migrate from cold mountains to warm deserts, scientific data to imagined futures, natural field recordings to synthesised sound, presenting different perspectives on the sounds of change in water environments. 

Mair’s geo narrative Thaw reveals how water, trapped in mountainous regions as snow and ice during cold periods, is sporadically discharged into rivers and streams during warming events as the ice melts. The increased water flow brings risks of local flooding and landslides as these streams sculpt and change our landscape. As temperature fluctuations become more extreme, such events are likely to become more dramatic. This soundtrack draws on scientific measurements of river dynamics and field recordings of local soundscapes. 

Panourgia’s Water-drought patterns tells the story of an aquatic environment suffering drought. Transitions between real places and their future condition are explored through the fictional dimensions of sounds of organisms and matter. Processed airborne, underwater and surface vibrations express forces, flows and competing elements and reveal multiple listening perspectives in space. Micro events and textures transmit plant and animal reactions to drought; adapting, struggling, behaving differently. Listeners navigate across multiple temporal and spatial scales and scenarios. 


Eleni-Ira Panourgia is a sound and visual artist, and researcher. Panourgia is currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Filmuniversität Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF on the project ‘Listening to Climate Change’ funded by Postdoc Network Brandenburg. She completed a PhD in Art at the University of Edinburgh as a Scholar of the Onassis Foundation. Her work focuses on the development of new forms of expression that combine sound, objects, spaces and environments. 

Karen Mair is a geoscientist and sound designer. Following an academic career, she completed masters in Design Informatics and Sound Design at the University of Edinburgh. She strives to make data more accessible and engage the public with science through listening by combining field recording, sound design and data sonification.