Voice of the Rivers: Quantifying the Sound of Rivers into Streamflow and Using the Audio for Education and Outreach

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Jeff Santos, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States
I have two goals with my research.

1. I proposed that sound recordings can be used to detect the amount of water flowing in a particular river, which could then be used to measure stream flow in rivers that have no instrumentation. My locations are in remote watersheds where hand instrumentation is the only means to collect data. I record 15 minute samples, at varied intervals, of the streams with a stereo microphone suspended above the river perpendicular to stream flow forming a “profile” of the river that can be compared to other stream-flow measurements of these areas over the course of a year. Through waveform analysis, I found a distinct voice for each river and I am quantifying the sound to track the flow based on amplitude, pitch, and wavelengths that these rivers produce.

2. Additionally, I plan to also use my DVD quality sound recordings with professional photos and HD video of these remote sites in education, outreach, and therapeutic venues. The outreach aspect of my research follows my goal of bridging communication between researchers and the public. Wyoming rivers are unique in that we export 85% of our water downstream. I would also like to take these recordings to schools, set up speakers in the four corners of a classroom and let the river flow as the teacher presents on water science. Immersion in an environment can help the learning experience of students. I have seen firsthand the power of drawing someone into an environment through sound and video. I will have my river sounds with me at AGU presented as an interactive touch-screen sound experience.