Antarctic ice shelf makes ghostly sounds as winds whip across its surface

Gwen Vasquez
October 20, 2018

"And its impact on the Antarctic ice sheet", the researcher added.

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 when they later analyzed the data, they found the shelf was humming, and the pitch changed depending on how winds were whipping across the snow dunes on the ice's surface, Earther reports.

Researchers studying the Ross Ice Shelf have discovered a new and freaky acoustic phenomenon.

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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).

"The response of the ice shelf tells us that we can track extremely sensitive details about it", Chaput said. The high frequency trapped seismic waves that ripple through the ice shelf were recorded by the researchers. The ice shelf buttresses adjacent ice sheets on Antarctica's mainland, impeding ice flow from land into water, like a cork in a bottle.

"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", the study says.

Each collapse allows ice to flow even faster, raising sea levels to risky new heights. It's actually a recording of sounds coming from Antarctica's largest ice shelf. "And that's essentially the two forcing effects we can observe".

Changes to the ice shelf's seismic hum could indicate whether melt ponds or cracks in the ice are forming that might indicate whether the ice shelf is susceptible to breaking up. Scientists documented the haunting sounds and published their findings in the Geophysical Research Letters on Tuesday.

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