Ice sounds

I’ve been reading a bit about environmental sounds lately, particularly the sounds that ice makes. It’s not really got much to do with cochlear implants, but I thought people with an interest in sound might also find this stuff interesting, so here we go…

Firstly, alot of this stuff comes from initial explorations at Silent Listening, an excellent blog made by Andreas Bick, a composer in Berlin. Anyhow, it turns out (as maybe you might expect?) that there is a fair bit of sound made inside large bodies of ice as the tensions caused by uneven heating and cooling resolve themselves, and that alot of people around the world are recording these sounds.

Scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute are even providing a free, almost real-time stream from two hydrophones located in the ocean under 100m of ice. Right now I can hear a series of slow ascending and decending chirps, against a background of what really sounds like a beach! Occasionally there are some thumps and clicks too. Well worth investigating, though the link goes from hydrophones via a wireless LAN to a German Antarctic base, then via satellite to a lab in Germany, and is then pumped into the internet, so it is a little bit flaky from time to time. Apparently most of the sounds are actually made by animals (whales, seals etc), although it’s certainly nothing like the whale songs you might be used to hearing. It’s interesting hearing this pretty finely structured signal, coming from somewhere with almost no human interference whatsoever. Apart from 100m boreholes in the ice… PDF with lots of details HERE

Well, it’s time for bed and there is heaps more to read and wrote about ice sounds, so I would just read Andreas Bick’s post instead.

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