Like a thousand bells. Scientists have learned to measure the size of lost glaciers by sound

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 Like thousands of bells. Scientists have learned to measure the size of lost glaciers by sound

Researchers believe that cryoacoustics will allow you to observe glaciers around the world without even approaching them.

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When a glacier breaks off in the Arctic Ocean, what sound does it make? In the new study, scientists not only learned to “listen to the glaciers,” but were also able to calculate the amount of ice lost from the sound, Eos writes. at this moment it is impossible to be on the glacier itself or on a rubber boat, in addition, it is impossible to place the equipment on the age-old ice so that it remains intact. But cryoacoustics changed everything.

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According to study authors Oscar Glowacki and Grant Dean, using underwater microphones, they were able to track how much ice the glaciers are losing by sound. In total, scientists have been engaged in this direction for about 10 years and now they seem to be able to summarize their work – researchers use the sounds made by broken pieces of ice to calculate their size and predict sea level.

In the study, Oskar Glowacki of the Institute of Geophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences and oceanographer Grant Dean of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego analyzed more than 650 calving events (iceberg breaks) recorded by hydrophones installed near the Hansbreen Glacier, located in the Norwegian archipelago.

Next, the scientists compared data from hydrophones with slow-motion images, videos, radar soundings, and air and water temperature data. As a result, scientists received confirmation of their acoustic data.

According to Katherine Walker, a laciologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts, who did not take part in the study, this work is very important and will allow scientists to learn more about melting in the future. and hotel of glaciers, and will also allow more efficient forecasting of sea level rise.

Deploying the equipment and recording the data isn't difficult at all, Glowacki says, the hardest part comes later when you're trying to decipher the recording. Researchers note that the oceans are noisier than we might have previously thought – the surf of the waves, the singing of marine mammals, storms, ships and the sounds of calving – all this makes up the underwater soundscape.

Researchers note that a breaking iceberg , for example, rumbles deeply at a low frequency, while the splashes and bubbles that form when it falls into water produce higher sounds. As a result, scientists use complex mathematical analysis to understand this cacophony and calculate the size of the glacier that broke away.

Note that the scientists also tested the effectiveness of their method by comparing the data obtained with records from two sources: ice blocks of known size were dropped into the laboratory pool, and known data from actual calving events at Hansbreen were used.

Researchers believe that this method of measuring glacier calving will greatly simplify the work of scientists in the future.