Scientists Track Haunting Sounds Of Antarctica’s Ice Shelves

Relatively warmer waters eating away at ice shelves

As noted by Earther, the frozen region's ambient sounds include the Rice Crispies-like crackle of melting ice releasing long-trapped air bubbles to the steady groans, screeches, and pops of massive floating ice sheets shifting and breaking apart as they buckle under the weight of fresh snow in the winter or melt during the summer.

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.

To better understand the physical properties of the Ross Ice Shelf - the largest on the continent - researchers buried 34 extremely sensitive seismic sensors under the snow covering its surface.

Mr Chaput and his team were using seismic sensors to learn more about the structure and movements of the Ross Ice Shelf.

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"Ice shelves are a critical element of the Antarctic glacier system", says Rick Aster, a geophysicist at Colorado State University and a coauthor of the new study.

The new study is important because it suggests seismic stations can be used to monitor the conditions of ice shelves in real-time.

The researchers noticed that the height of seismic hum changes when under the influence of weather conditions of snow dunes "rebuilt" or when the temperature abruptly rises or falls.

As the global temperature is still rising, massive ice shelves are melting, and the excess water will increase the level of the sea.

The winds that blow over the surface of ice glaciers in Antarctica cause the Antarctic ice sheet "sings" as it's vibrating producing a near-constant set of seismic "tones", as reported by Phys. Researchers could now, finally, monitor alterations in the ice shelf from afar. "Basically, what we have on our hands is a tool to monitor the environment, really". "And that's essentially the two forcing effects we can observe". Details like melt ponds or cracks forming that might indicate whether the shelf is liable to break up. What they heard however, the creeping "singing" of the ice shelf, is not at all what the anticipated they would find.

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