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Hear the ghostly hums of Antarctica’s biggest ice shelf – CNET

If you’re still hunting for a soundtrack for your Halloween party, what about this ghostly tune by the Ross Ice Shelf?

Antarctica’s largest ice shelf “sings” when winds blow across its snow dunes, causing vibrations on its surface, according to new research published in journal Geophysical Research Letters this week.

The researchers buried 34 “extremely sensitive” seismic sensors beneath the snowy surface of the Ross Ice Shelf to observe its vibrations and study its structure and movements. From the data collected, they found the whipping of the winds across snow dunes caused rumbling in the snow blanket.

These vibrations result in a “near-constant” set of seismic hums that could potentially be used to help scientists monitor changes in the massive ice slab in real time, the researchers wrote.

That’s because changes to the pitch of its hums, caused by changing weather conditions that can affect the frequency of vibrations, may be indications of melt ponds — pools of open water that form on sea ice — or cracks forming and could provide clues to the possibility of the ice shelf breaking up.

“The response of the ice shelf tells us that we can track extremely sensitive details about it,” said lead author Julien Chaput, a geophysicist and mathematician at the Colorado State University. 

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

Though creepy, it seems people enjoy giving non-living objects human qualities. Internet users in China were surprised to find Xiaomi’s fitness tracker detected a heartbeat in a toilet roll, while further tests by Abacus revealed the same in a banana and a mug when using different fitness trackers. They’re not coming alive though — the sensor on the fitness trackers were confused by light signals. Fear not.

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