Scientists record Antarctica's singing ice shelf

20 October, 2018, 09:26 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Antarctic ice sounds really creepy when it vibrates

When they looked at the data, they realized the top layer of the shelf (called the firn) was nearly constantly vibrating, thanks to the winds travelling atop the snow dunes.

You are about to hear something very unusual. On top of being really cool to listen to, these recordings help scientists better understand the climatological and geologic processes that shape the Antarctic. Wind blown ice shelf in Antarctica, call it vibrations that potentially can be used to remotely monitor the status of the glaciers.

Not only were whipping winds causing the ice sheet's snow to rumble, but the pitch of this seismic hum also changed depending on the slushy surface conditions.

They now hope to use the ice shelf's "song" to monitor changes in the ice shelf from afar as weather conditions change the frequency of the vibration by altering its topography. The frequency of these waves vary based on changes to the loose snow in the firn, including the impacts of heavy winds or temperature shifts.

The real goal was to monitor changes on the Ross ice shelf as the greater ice-clad continent - under pressure from both relatively warm air above and seawater eating away ice from below - alter Antarctica's massive glaciers and portend historically unprecedented sea level rise.

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"Either you change the velocity of the snow by heating or cooling it, or you change where you blow on the flute, by adding or destroying dunes", Chaput explained.

This means it is more important than ever that we keep a vigilant eye on any major changes in ice shelves.

But beyond producing insane sounds, the research is providing invaluable insight into the changing weather conditions on our southernmost continent.

The "hum" is actually far too low to be detected by the human ear, but when sped up by 1200 times the distinctive - and creepy - noise can clearly be heard. "And that's essentially the two forcing effects we can observe". For instance, changes in the hum could indicate the presence of melt ponds or cracks in the ice. They posted the eerie sounds online, along with a Geophysical Research Letters report on their greater research.

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