Antarctic Ice Sheet "Sings" Thanks To The Winds Blowing On Its Surface

Ice structure sticking out from vast windy Antartica ice shelf

Antarctic ice sounds really creepy when it vibrates

Odd noises have come from the Antarctic before as age-old air bubbles escaped their icy prisons and large ice sheets crumbled.

The snow provides a barrier between the air and the ice, which insulates it from warming temperatures, comparing it to a fur coat. "We care deeply about them because their stability in decades to come will substantially affect global sea level rise and other issues that affect millions".

Winds whipping across the massive snow dunes left the shelf's icy covering rumbling like the pounding of a colossal drum.

In an astounding new example, a team led by Julien Chaput of Colorado State University and the University of Texas, have revealed how the "songs" created by vibrations in the Ross Ice Shelf can be used to continuously monitor the changing conditions within the ice mass' top five meters (16.4 feet).

When the researchers started analyzing seismic data on the Ross Ice Shelf, they noticed something odd: the vibration was nearly constant.

Just as musicians change pitch or note by altering how fast and through which holes air flows, strong storms and air temperatures adjust the topography.

Kershaw's strong outing lifts Dodgers to 3-2 NLCS lead
The Dodgers will send staff ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound in Game 5. "It's been working out", Chrisitan Yelich said. Counsell pulled starter Wade Miley after he walked Dodgers leadoff man Cody Bellinger on five pitches.

"This last point is particularly interesting", says Chaput, "because it could allow us to quantify which ice shelves have firn layers that are strongly impacted by repeated warming events, and also yield a metric of how resilient these firn layers might be".

The human ear can't hear the unaltered sound because it is at too low of a frequency, the researchers noted.

Studying the vibrations - and how they change based on changes to the ice shelf - could give researchers a sense of the effect of climate change on the region, according to University of Chicago glaciologist Douglas MacAyeal, who penned a commentator on the effect in Geophysical Research Letters.

"Basically, what we have on our hands is a tool to monitor the environment, really", he added.

"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.

The Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica it is emitting tones reminiscent of a didgeridoo, or the drone of a horror film soundtrack.

Latest News