A group of researchers studying the behavior of glaciers has managed to recently record a mysterious sound on Antarctica, demonstrating how alive the massive icy continent actually is. According to experts, the winds raging over Antarctica make the Ice Self’s outer snow layer vibrate, producing a unique sound.
The Ross Ice Barrier is the continent’s biggest barrier and is located in the Ross Sea, also named after Captain James Clark Ross, who discovered it in 1841.
Under conditions of global warming, scientists are monitoring the Antarctic glaciers to assess their displacement, thickness, and behavior.
To control the processes related to the Ross barrier, the experts placed 34 seismic detectors that allowed monitoring the “health” of the glacier between 2014 and 2017.
Thanks to the peculiar structure of the glacier, its surface has several dunes, covered by layers of snow.
Antarctic Rock n’ Roll
Once the analysis of collected data began, the students settled on a peculiar phenomenon.
It turned out that the aforementioned layers of snow experienced a permanent vibration.
Therefore, near the largest dunes, there is even a kind of noise.
Eventually, scientists decided it would be a good idea to accelerate the recording they had obtained and they produced music.
The changes in sound recorded by scientists are due to the transformation experienced by the dunes.
Scholars explain that the structure of these dunes is really something like a flute.
“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.
That is, the air flow generates different sounds as it passes through the cavities.
For example, in 2016 the frequency of vibrations was reduced, so the tone of the vibrations became lower.
Interestingly, when the temperature dropped again, the frequency did not change.
That is, the changes in tone can be both reversible and irreversible explain experts.
Scientists emphasize that the “voice” of the Ross barrier is not only a peculiar phenomenon but also an important resource for monitoring it since the glacier in question is located in an area affected by the rapid melting of the ice and requires scientific control.
“The response of the ice shelf tells us that we can track extremely sensitive details about it,” Chaput explained.
“Basically, what we have on our hands is a tool to monitor the environment, really. And its impact on the ice shelf.”
Scientists estimate that once the ice sheet of West Antarctica melts, sea level would rise by about three meters, resulting in catastrophic damage to coastal cities located around the globe.