When wind blows over the snow of Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf, the surface vibrates and produces a beautiful and eery drone. Colorado State University researchers deployed seismometers to explore the subsurface of the ice shelf and were surprised to learn that their sensors recorded the natural song of the terrain. The frequencies are below the threshold of human hearing and are sped up for audibility in the video above. From the scientific paper:
Ice shelves are the floating buttresses of large glaciers that extend over the oceans and play a key role in restraining inland glaciers as they flow to the sea. Deploying sensitive
seismographs across Earth’s largest ice shelf (the Ross Ice Shelf) for 2 years, we discovered that the shelf
nearly continuously sings at frequencies of five or more cycles per second, excited by local and regional
winds blowing across its snow dune-like topography. We find that the frequencies and other features of
this singing change, both as storms alter the snow dunes and during a (January 2016) warming event
that resulted in melting in the ice shelf’s near surface. These observations demonstrate that seismological
monitoring can be used to continually monitor the near-surface conditions of an ice shelf and other icy
bodies to depths of several meters.
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