Antarctic ice shelf sings as winds whip across its surface

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The resulting data showed something unusual: the "fur coat" snow layer that protects the ice from heat was constantly "singing", or vibrating.

"We discovered that the shelf almost continuously sings at frequencies of five or more cycles per second, excited by local and regional winds blowing across its snow dune‐like topography,"the authors explain in a press release".

A haunting sound captured by researchers could help monitor changes to Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf from afar.

The snow provides a barrier between the air and the ice, which insulates it from warming temperatures, comparing it to a fur coat.

The "hum" is actually far too low to be detected by the human ear, but when sped up by 1200 times the distinctive - and creepy - noise can clearly be heard. 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. Scientists say the sounds could alert them to the shelf's condition under climate change, like a kind of warning sound for the planet.

"Basically, what we have on our hands is a tool to monitor the environment... and its impact on the ice shelf", he added.

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The Ross Ice Shelf is Antarctica's largest ice shelf, a Texas-sized plate of glacial ice fed from the icy continent's interior that floats atop the Southern Ocean, said researchers at Colorado State University in the US.

Relatively warmer waters eating away at ice shelves. This means it is more important than ever that we keep a vigilant eye on any major changes in ice shelves.

"Losing an ice shelf is something of a catastrophe", he said, because it stabilizes nearby ice sheets that "are the true heavy hitters in sea level rise".

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

Mr Chaput and his team were using seismic sensors to learn more about the structure and movements of the Ross Ice Shelf.

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