CHECK THIS OUT: Singing ice shelf

Antarctic ice sounds really creepy when it vibrates

But when they later analyzed the data, they found the shelf was humming, and the pitch changed depending on how winds were whipping across the snow dunes on the ice's surface, Earther reports. Courtesy/Rick Aster.Researchers lay the conduit that connects the seismometer to the solar power system (background) and recording components at a Ross Ice Shelf seismic station.

After burying 34 seismic monitors in the snow atop the Ross Ice Shelf in 2014 - which is a massive Texas-sized slab of ice that floats over the Southern Ocean - the instruments picked up near-constant "buzzing" noises.

The Ross Ice Shelf at the Bay of Whales - the point where Amundsen staged his successful assault on the South Pole. The ice shelf buttresses adjacent ice sheets on Antarctica's mainland, impeding ice flow from land into water, like a cork in a bottle.

Each collapse allows ice to flow even faster, raising sea levels to risky new heights.

To study the ice shelf's physical characteristics, scientists buried sensitive seismometers beneath the snow to record the shelf's changing vibrations.

A thick blanket of snow covers ice sheets, which are frequently of a few meters thick, that shows considerable snow dunes, resembling sand dunes of the Sahara desert, for example. This snow layer acts like a fur coat for the underlying ice, insulating the ice below from heating and even melting when temperatures rise. But when the researchers actually analyzed the data, they came to a striking conclusion: the outermost layer of the ice shelf was nearly constantly vibrating.

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The noise has also allowed researchers to discover how several processes like global warming and winds are affecting the ice.

But if we deployed seismic sensors on more ice shelfs, you could observe subtle environmental changes, in minutes.

The sounds are too low in frequency to be heard by human ears unless sped up by the monitoring equipment.

The sound changes as weather conditions changes, which the researchers say can track changes such as storms, and more importantly, changes in air temperatures. For instance, changes in the hum could indicate the presence of melt ponds or cracks in the ice.

"It's kind of like you're blowing a flute, constantly, on the ice shelf", Julien Chaput, lead author of the study, said.

"Basically, what we have on our hands is a tool to monitor the environment, really", he added.

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