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What Does Nature Sound Like?

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Stirring Ice

The ferocious noise made by popping or cracking ice maybe a worrying sound to the lay ear — particularly if you are standing on top of it at the time. However to researchers working in the field of climate science the groaning of the polar landscapes is music to their ears.

Scientists have started to record the sound that the ice makes as it recedes, using hydrophones to measure the amount of glacial melting. Mapping the sea floor using sonar is not a new phenomenon but in this new application instead of sending pulses of sound to the sea floor and timing their return, glaciologists just simply listen. Looking at the interface between ice, ocean and bedrock it may be possible to use acoustics to measure the glacial melt.

You can almost hear the glaciers heave a sigh of relief.

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Photo from shareski via flickr

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6:47AM PDT on Oct 28, 2011

@Alison - Those same statements made me wonder, too, and then I decided the authors (BBCEarth Team) were simply waxing a bit poetic and not clearly stating what was meant - or at least not providing a clear path to those statements.

I think, from a purely objective scientific point of view, there is "good" to be found in listening to these sounds of the ice if they can be gathered and interpreted in a way that reveals further much needed and much desired data that will help better understand the workings of Mother Nature. Thus, the addition of more data would be "music to their ears" because more pieces of the puzzle would be more clearly revealed. But a scientifically minded appreciation of that "good" would not in any way imply that it is in any other way "good" that the ice is melting and making those sounds.

Being able to "hear the glaciers heave a sigh of relief" seems to me to be poetic and anthropomorphic commentary indicating that Mother Earth may be sighing, through the sounds of the ice, in relief that we humans may actually be getting closer to knowing and understanding that we are doing many things to the Earth that have serious negative impacts, and that we may change our behavior for the better of all beings, including Mother Earth. And that would be good. Hope that helps.

12:42AM PDT on Oct 28, 2011

I don't understand these two statements:
"However to researchers working in the field of climate science the groaning of the polar landscapes is music to their ears." and "it may be possible to use acoustics to measure the glacial melt. You can almost hear the glaciers heave a sigh of relief."

Why are these two things good? Because it proves the ice is melting? I'm confused.

10:50PM PDT on Oct 27, 2011

~This article was really amazing~I heard some sounds on a story by Nat. Geo.~It's really cool to listen to nature's sounds!!~

9:14PM PDT on Oct 27, 2011

Very few people listen to the sound of silence, the sound of nature because they walk around with earplugs blasting loud music into their ears and isolating themselves of what is really happening around them.
Humans are inherently stupid and unaware of what is happening around them.They do not care and life is passing them by without them realizing the beauty around them..Poor little insignificant human animals.

7:56PM PDT on Oct 27, 2011

Thanks for very interesting information.

6:39PM PDT on Oct 27, 2011

I can see why the world is full of sound today, it is because of natural forces within the planet that help us understand our ecosystem more.

5:23PM PDT on Oct 27, 2011

The world is alive with the sound of music.... Thank you.

4:41PM PDT on Oct 27, 2011

What a fabulous photo of a sand dune! Loved the whole article. Thank you.

2:55PM PDT on Oct 27, 2011

I really like the section about 'stirring ice', what a great image!

2:10PM PDT on Oct 27, 2011

very interesting. thanks.

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