Cracking wise and singing songs in Antarctica

The latest scientific news from the South Pole is an interesting mixed bag
Antarctica There is always something happening deep within the glaciers of Antarctica. (© Angela Perryman -

The continent of Antarctica is not exactly a big vacation destination, but it IS very popular amongst scientists. Between its unique wildlife (some of which offer incredible windows to the past) and its role in predicting climate change, researchers are fascinated by the stories that it has to tell us.

(It also has some pretty rare fruitcake, or so we've been told ...)

That's why we're eager to find out what all the fuss is about and pass it on to you, our loyal readers. Are you ready for an Antarctic roundup?!

Keep track of the cracks

Embed from Getty Images

The edges of glaciers help to act as barriers that keep the rest of the ice shelf from drifting into the sea. This is a big reason why scientists are concerned about cracks like the one just discovered in the Pine Island Glacier. (Getty Embed)

Antarctica is covered in massive, mile-thick sheets of ice called ice shelves. Understanding the 'health' of these sheets is a big part of climate change research. Are they breaking apart at an unusual rate compared with historical records? Are there areas that look weaker than others?

The Pine Island Glacier is one of the giant ice sheets that scientists are keeping an eye on. And just this month, they discovered a 30-kilometre (19-mile) long crack in the glacier. You can see the crack labelled below.

If it breaks off—as this chunk did last year—it would be an iceberg that is bigger than the city of Honolulu. And as for when this would happen, well, it could be faster than you think. The entire crack appeared out of nowhere within a week.

Sing us a (scary?) song

Meanwhile, Antarctica has more to share with us than what we can see. While doing research into seismic activity (or large-scale movement and tremors) in the Ross Ice Shelf, researchers accidentally stumbled across a most bizarre sound. The ice was 'singing'. Listen ...

We can't help but think that it's more than a coincidence that we're finding out about this spooky tune so close to Halloween. Would you walk up to a house that was playing this? Either way, we shouldn't be surprised—Antarctica has a history of making otherworldly noises.

What can we say? Antarctica, you're full of fascinating stuff. We're keeping our eye on you!

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