Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Scientists Track Haunting Sounds Of Antarctica’s Ice Shelves

The Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica The Ross Ice Shelf
Sandy Nunez | 20 October, 2018, 09:27

Scientists who monitor the Ross Ice Shelf in West Antarctica captured the odd acoustic signal. Antartica is experiencing an accelerating loss of mass from its ice shelves, which act as plugs holding back the world's largest stores of ice from flowing uninhibited into the ocean.

The response of the ice shelf tells us that we can track extremely sensitive details about it.

Researchers believe that monitoring the snow's melt-rate acoustically could be a way to warn scientists when the shelf may become unstable.

Researchers were able to use the sensors to study movements and sounds of the Ross Ice Shelf until early 2017, according to the study. However, when an Antarctic ice meltdown is recorded, that means the rise of the sea levels. The winds cause the massive ice slab's surface to vibrate, producing a near-constant set of seismic tones scientists could potentially use to monitor changes in the ice shelf from afar, according to new research led by Colorado State University.

It turns out the sounds come from powerful winds blowing through snow dunes. Unusual discoveries continue to pile up around Antarctica's ice shelves as a result of all the changes, and haunting sounds are one of the newer phenomena. 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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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.

But if we deployed seismic sensors on more ice shelfs, you could observe subtle environmental changes, in minutes. Scientists say the sounds could alert them to the shelf's condition under climate change, like a kind of warning sound for the planet.

Changes to the ice shelf's "seismic hum" could also indicate whether cracks in the ice are forming that might indicate whether the ice shelf is susceptible to breaking up.

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