January 20, 2019

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

20 October 2018, 05:12 | Ross Houston

Relatively warmer waters eating away at ice

Relatively warmer waters eating away at ice shelves

On top of being really cool to listen to, these recordings help scientists better understand the climatological and geologic processes that shape the Antarctic.

It is reported by the American geophysical Union (AGU), reports the with reference to Focus.

The Ross Ice Shelf at the Bay of Whales - the point where Amundsen staged his successful assault on the South Pole. As the shelves disintegrate, they allow other inland ice to fall into the ocean, contributing to sea level rise. Because of global warming it happens more often, but researchers do not always have time to notice the signs of the coming destruction.

The biggest shelf in Antarctica - the Ross shelf has an area of about 500 square kilometers, slightly less than France.

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. As wind blows across the shelf's snow dunes, the snow layers and thick slab of floating ice beneath vibrates, producing low-pitched humming patterns. Because of the constant wind, the snow like sand dunes in the desert.

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It is more of a creepy sound caused by the vibration sounds, and the frequency is too low to be audible to the human ear.

According to the researchers, variations in wind strength (due to things like storms) and changes in air temperatures can both impact the snow layer, and in so doing affect the pitch of the seismic hum detected.

"That's essentially the two forcing effects we can observe".

"It's kind of like you're blowing a flute, constantly, on the ice shelf, ' study lead author Julien Chaput, a geophysicist and mathematician at Colorado State University, said in a statement". 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.

Being able to monitor the air temperature is particularly important, Chaput explained, because it could tell us which ice shelves are vulnerable to warming events.

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