Antarctic ice sounds really creepy when it vibrates

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The Antarctic has been going through many changes over the years, primarily because of the cracking ice shelves caused by global warming.

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.

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.

Think your friends would be interested? Scientists say the sounds could alert them to the shelf's condition under climate change, like a kind of warning sound for the planet.

As it turns out, the sounds actually come from powerful winds blowing through snow dunes on the surface of the ice shelf itself.

It might sound like the terrifying soundtrack to a horror movie, but winds blowing across the snowy dunes of Antarctica's biggest ice shelf may help researchers monitor climate changes in Antarctica.

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

Though photographs may present the barren landscapes of Antarctica as eerily calm and peaceful, at least when no storms are raging, the largely lifeless continent and the ice shelves surrounding it produce a medley of bizarrely lovely sounds. The ice shelf buttresses adjacent ice sheets on Antarctica's mainland, impeding ice flow from land into water, like a cork in a bottle.

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.

"Either you change the velocity of the snow by heating or cooling it, or you change where you blow on the flute, by adding or destroying dunes", Chaput said.

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

He said changes to the hum could indicate whether melt ponds or cracks in the ice are forming and, therefore, whether the ice shelf is susceptible to breaking up.

Researchers detailed their initial acoustic monitoring effort this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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