This Antarctic Ice Shelf Sounds Dark And Foreboding Like Doom Metal

This Antarctic Ice Shelf Sounds Dark And Foreboding Like Doom Metal

The sensors were buried under a layer of loose snow and ice, which is called firn. The high frequency trapped seismic waves that ripple through the ice shelf were recorded by the researchers.

But they noticed something odd - the snow blanketing the shelf was nearly constantly vibrating.

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.

The lowest frequency a human can hear is only 20 Hz, and even then this is only possible in extreme anechoic chambers, but we can "feel" sounds lower than that, for example during earthquakes.

"If this vibration were audible, it would be analogous to the buzz produced by thousands of cicada bugs when they overrun the tree canopy and grasses in late summer", he wrote in a piece published in Geophysical Research Letters.

"We discovered that the shelf almost continuously sings at frequencies of five or more cycles per second, excited by local and regional winds blowing across its snow dune‐like topography", in a press release.

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One of the researchers, Julien Chaput of Colorado State University, said: "It's kind of like you're blowing a flute, constantly, on the ice shelf", with each note change indicating a major structural change.

The difference in frequencies, or what Chaput describes as singing, happens as the surface of the snow dunes changes.

Scientists think continued seismic monitoring could help researchers track the effects of climate change on the ice shelf.

But if we deployed seismic sensors on more ice shelfs, you could observe subtle environmental changes, in minutes. "Basically, what we have on our hands is a tool to monitor the environment, really".

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

The Antarctic has been going through many changes over the years, primarily because of the cracking ice shelves caused by global warming. For instance, changes in the hum could indicate the presence of melt ponds or cracks in the ice.

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