The Loh Down On Science

Iceberg Songs

The soothing sounds of scraping icebergs.

Talk about cool jazz!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with The Loh Down on Science

and on the musical stylings of, well. . . ice.

In 2000, a massive iceberg broke off the Antarctic shelf. Soon after, underwater hydrophones began picking up harmonic tremors as far away as Tahiti..

Researchers from Northwestern University and University of Chicago set up seismographs to monitor the tremors.

To their surprise, the same tune played every day --at times that coincided with the tidal patterns in the Ross Sea.

Source of the broadcast? Two icebergs, scraping together with the tide, like a bow across cello strings.

The movement was less than a millimeter, but that tiny bit of friction set off musical vibrations that were amplified world-wide. Think XM Satellite, from the South Pole.

Normally silent to human ears, the sounds become clear when sped up--they range from barks to pings to laughing monkeys.

The discovery will help us study earthquakes and global warming.

The icebergs even planned to make a record under the names Ice T and Ice Cube but those. . . names were already taken.


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