The scientists liken it to ‘singing’, but to our ears the creepy dirge of Antarctic ice shelf vibrations sounds more like the sinister score of a horror movie.
Researchers on Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf have recorded the slow seismic hum generated by wind forces whipping across the ice sheet’s frozen landscape.
The frequency detected is far too low for the human ear to hear naturally, but when it’s sped up some 1,200 times, what emerges is an eerie soundtrack of restlessness hidden within the bleak polar isolation.
“It’s kind of like you’re blowing a flute, constantly, on the ice shelf,” says geophysicist and mathematician Julien Chaput from Colorado State University.
Once it’s rendered audible, here’s what the creepy vibration phenomenon sounds like:
Of course, Chaput and his team weren’t originally setting out to make the soundtrack to a horror movie.
The purpose of their research was to learn more about the physical properties of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica’s (and the world’s) largest floating slab of ice, which is roughly the size of Spain.
To better understand the forces at work, Chaput and fellow researchers buried 34 seismic sensors under the deep snow layer that sits atop the Ross Ice Shelf’s underlying ice.