Listening To The Antarctic Ice

Ever wondered what the ocean beneath the Antarctic ice sounds like? Then you’re in luck, because the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research has you covered.

The German scientific base was established to explore the relationship with the ocean, the ice, and the plants and animals that inhabit the area. as such, they have placed two hydrophones beneath the surface. Those devices are powered by an autonomous, wind and solar generating observatory found on the Ekström ice shelf. The collected data, including the sounds, are transmitted back to the base, which then uploads it all via satellite connection to the Internet.

The results? An audio stream of what it sounds like beneath the ocean in Antarctica. The stream is available in both MP3 format and Ogg-Vorbis, both of which can be found by clicking here.

The information on the page warns that the sound is highly compressed and meant for scientific study, so it may not be fascinating to listen to all of the time. They also say that the sounds of animals may be very faint at times as well. And if that weren’t enough, you’ll hear a distinct hissing sound for a variety of reasons. The official description reads as follows:

A constant hiss pervading the signal is partly due to electronic noise as we push the hydrophone amplifiers to their limits, but also the natural ocean background noise made audible here through the use of ultra sensitive hydrophones. Additional broad band noise caused by wind, waves and currents adds to it on occasion. There a three sources of click-like interference: switching relais, electrostatic discharges caused by snow drift, and sferics produced by thunderstorms ten thousands of kilometers away.

While it may not be your favorite music, it is still an interesting thing to hear, and think about how far the sounds have to travel just to make it to our ears. Cool stuff. 🙂

Kraig Becker

1 thought on “Listening To The Antarctic Ice”

  1. Interesting article you got here. I'd like to read a bit more concerning this matter. Thanks for posting this info.

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