Antarctic Ice Shelf "Sings" as Winds Whip Across Its Surface

Mindy Sparks
October 20, 2018

Winds whipping across the massive snow dunes caused the ice sheet's surface to rumble, like the pounding of a colossal drum.

Chaput considers seismic monitoring to be a good way to keep an eye on Antarctica's ice shelves, which are considered to be among the most remote locales in the world.

For context, it can sometimes be necessary to dramatically speed up or slow down sounds in order for humans to perceive or bear them - like this slowed-down version of Justin Bieber.

Researchers were able to use the sensors to study movements and sounds of the Ross Ice Shelf until early 2017, according to the study. But as if that wasn't enough, scientists found that when the wind blows across its surface, the ice shelf hums eerie soundscapes that would fit right in a B-movie horror flick.

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The vibrations themselves are believed to have been created by strong winds blowing across the dunes atop the Ross ice shelf, which vibrates the ice.

If you're still hunting for a soundtrack for your Halloween party, what about this ghostly tune by the Ross Ice Shelf?

And just like musicians change a flute's pitch by altering which holes air is allowed to flow through or how fast it flows, weather conditions can change the frequency of the snow blanket's vibrations.

As the global temperature is still rising, massive ice shelves are melting, and the excess water will increase the level of the sea. "Chasing down that lead gave us a unique insight into all the environmental effects an ice shelf can 'feel, ' and on remarkably short time scales".

Julien Chaput, an ambient noise monitoring expert at Colorado State University and new faculty member at the University of Texas, El Paso, told Earther that the recordings are a "happy accident".

The songs of Antarctica's largest ice shelf could help scientists monitor the effects of climate change on the Southern Continent. Recent years have highlighted the role of ice shelves as the "real heavy hitters in any potential sea rise", says Chaput, and he's encouraged by the notion of using this technique to study ice melt broadly across the globe.

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