ibusinesslines.com November 14, 2018

An Antarctic ice shelf is 'singing' and it's creepy

20 October 2018, 05:08 | Justin Tyler

The wind lashing against the upper layer of the ice shelf creates an inaudible'ice song

Science allows us to hear Antarctica’s haunting ice song for the 1st time

The noise is actually vibrating ice, caused by the wind blowing across snow dunes, according to a new study.

Standing atop the Ross Ice Sheet, you won't hear the throbbing of snow below. But if you have the right equipment to first capture and then remix the acoustic waves, a whole new soundtrack can be revealed.

Scientists who set out to watch the ice shift in Antarctica have ended up listening to it instead.

Researchers on Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf have recorded the slow seismic hum generated by wind forces whipping across the ice sheet's frozen landscape. "We find that the frequencies and other features of this singing change, both as storms alter the snow dunes and during a (January 2016) warming event that resulted in melting in the ice shelf's near surface". Changes in air temperature and wind speed also affected how the vibrations traveled through the snow and ice.

The Ross Ice Shelf is Antarctica's largest ice shelf, a Texas-sized plate of glacial ice fed from the icy continent's interior that floats atop the Southern Ocean. Scientists say the sounds could alert them to the shelf's condition under climate change, like a kind of warning sound for the planet. "And that's essentially the two forcing effects we can observe".

To better understand the forces at work, Chaput and fellow researchers buried 34 seismic sensors under the deep snow layer that sits atop the Ross Ice Shelf's underlying ice.

He said changes to the hum could indicate whether melt ponds or cracks in the ice are forming and, therefore, whether the ice shelf is susceptible to breaking up.

"Basically, what we have on our hands is a tool to monitor the environment, really", he added. They posted the eerie sounds online, along with a Geophysical Research Letters report on their greater research.

The Antarctic has been going through many changes over the years, primarily because of the cracking ice shelves caused by global warming.

"The response of the ice shelf tells us that we can track extremely sensitive details about it", said lead author Julien Chaput, a geophysicist and mathematician at the Colorado State University.

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