Noisy Melting Glaciers Help Man, Seal and Killer Whales

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Melting Glaciers leave behind a lot of noise underwater not generally noticeable to an outsider.

A research article published online suggests that the melting glacier is very noisy.

The noise is due to the reshaping of the ice molecules when they thaw. It sounds like ‘white noise’ or radio static. Rate of glacier melting activity could be measured underwater by monitoring the  sounds of the ice molecules reshaping. They have a frequency of around 1 to 3 Kilohertz. The noise when monitored by man can determine the rate of melt of tidewater glaciers.


Seals have to move more inland due to the glacier melt, which has been blamed for their rate of decline near Fjords whose glaciers have retreated onto land. They used to depend on the ‘white noise’ as camouflage , to avoid predators listening out for their activities from below.
Killer Whales can now hear more clearly in areas that used to be noisy. Melting glaciers is good news for the hungry Whales’ ears and stomach.

Original Article by Sid Perkins. listen to a melting glacier…news.sciencemag.orgOrcas

A new study shows that as a glacier’s ice melts, bubbles of pressurized ancient air escape into the water, leading to noise levels even louder than those beneath rain-pounded seas heaving with 6-meter waves. Data gathered by underwater sensors at three sites where glaciers meet the sea (including a yearlong deployment of instruments in Icy Bay, Alaska, shown) reveal that the noise persists year-round and is loudest at frequencies between 1 and 3 kilohertz, more or less the pitches in a piano’s two uppermost octaves, the researchers reported online this week in Geophysical Research Letters.



Edmondo Burr
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