Why are icebergs noisy?

Dr Philippe Blondel (Department of Physics) has embarked on a three-week trip to the Arctic to investigate the underwater noise made by icebergs and glaciers when they melt. In the future this information could be used to remotely monitor the rate of ice melting in locations that are difficult or dangerous to access.

Dr Blondel's collaborators from the Polish Academy of Science and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (USA) deployed hydrophones, underwater microphones, in 2013 to monitor noise from glaciers close to the Polish Polar station. The current trip will retrieve these and deploy new instruments to measure noise over a 12 month period.

Philippe is writing about his trip and his other research in a new blog, Sounds of the Planet, describing his experiences including negotiating airport security with scientific instruments that look suspicious on X-ray machines, working in 24 hour daylight, and carrying a rifle in case of polar bear encounters.

Dr Blondel explained: "With the noise coming from the glaciers, we can detect when they are melting even if no one is nearby, how they are melting, and how much fresh water they contribute to the salty oceans. Too much fresh water will kill zooplankton, near the base of the local food chain, which will then affect other wildlife."

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