Antarctic Ice Shelf Sings As Winds Whip Across Surface

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

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

Winds whipping across the massive snow dunes caused the ice sheet's surface to rumble, like the pounding of a colossal drum.

"Melting of the firn is broadly considered one of the most important factors in the destabilization of an ice shelf, which then accelerates the streaming of ice into the ocean from abutting ice sheets", Chaput said, according to Gizmodo.

For this reason, they have buried 34 monitors seismic under the layer of snow from the sea ice of Ross so they can capture that awesome noise. Ultra-sensitive seismic sensors enabled them to hear the haunting sounds of Antarctica's ice shelves. While these wintery sounds have their place in the wintery landscape, you can banish the idea of anything resembling Frozen-these songs are more of the inaudible-to-human-ears type.

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A paper published to Geophysical Research Letters revealed how winds blowing across the snow dunes on the continent's Ross Ice Shelf causes the massive ice slab's surface to vibrate.

The top layers of loose snow and ice are called firn, and they are vulnerable to events that take place above the surface, including the wind and temperature changes.

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With this newfound ability, researchers could use seismic stations to continuously monitor the conditions on ice shelves nearly in real time, allowing us to see how the ice shelf's snow jacket is responding to changing climate conditions. As the shelves disintegrate, they allow other inland ice to fall into the ocean, contributing to sea level rise. "Chasing down that lead gave us a unique insight into all the environmental effects an ice shelf can 'feel, ' and on remarkably short time scales". "And that's essentially the two forcing effects we can observe".

Chaput told Global News that now, ice shelf monitoring is limited to satellite sweeps, which are few and far between.

At about 800km across, the ice shelf is about the size of France and has produced several icebergs, including B15 - the world's largest iceberg. For instance, changes in the hum could indicate the presence of melt ponds or cracks in the ice.

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