Transmitting live from below the Antarctic Ice

[Image: Antarctica by Christopher Michel].

I’ve written about the sounds of Antarctica before, but, as it happens, we can now listen directly to “an acoustic live stream of the Antarctic underwater soundscape.”
This “live stream” is recorded via hydrophones attached to “an autonomous, wind and solar powered observatory located on the Ekström ice shelf.” The observatory is called PALAOA – the PerenniAL Acoustic Observatory in the Antarctic Ocean – and its purpose is “to record the underwater soundscape in the vicinity of the shelf ice edge over the duration of several years.”
Bizarrely, the Institute reminds us that “this transmission is not meant for entertainment” – it is meant “for scientific research.” Twenty-five people sitting around in a Manhattan apartment, popping open some more wine at 2am, listening to the sounds of Antarctica. Or next year’s Super Bowl half-time show: an acoustic live stream of the Antarctic underwater soundscape.
Adrenalin goes through the roof.


13 thoughts on “Transmitting live from below the Antarctic Ice”

  1. I still have the phone number for that Icelandic glacier on my mobile. I’ve never called it, but it’s reassuring to know that it’s there.

    I was suprised to hear, as I logged on to the webstream, a needlessly robotic voice informing me that the recording is copyrighted by the Institute. Who would “steal” the sound of Antarctica, and for what reason?

  2. it seems fitting that we seek pure sound from a place that is almost entirely devoid of “noise” as we understand it. particularly human noise.

    for the more less romantic noises of the southern continent and a taste of what it is like to dwell there, check out

  3. Any sense of what the various components are? The web site identifies the top-level hiss as “natural, isotropic background noise” which is strangely somewhat calming, but I keep thinking I hear a motor…. surely that’s not the sound of the “calving icebergs” and there can’t be that many whales…

    Very wild Geoff… great find… though, I suppose, depressing if some of the sounds are the dissolution of ice pieces going the way of the Wilkins shelf… one hopes not…

  4. This has been up and running for a couple of years, at least. I’ve fallen asleep to it more than once!

    surely that’s not the sound of the “calving icebergs” and there can’t be that many whales…

    Haven’t listened in a long while, but I used to hear a lot of Weddell seals, which make a very strange electronic-sounding noise. That could be what you’re hearing.

    Here are some ionospheric sounds to balance it out.

  5. I’ve got a 2-CD set of McGreevy’s recordings somewhere; I bought it while particularly drunk as a student in HMV. I rather like it, though I really don’t know if it was a worthwhile purchase…

  6. who would steal the sound of the Antarctic? it’s not such a strange idea when you know that some enlightened souls copyrighted it!!

  7. I have listened to this before! It really is cool (no pun intended) I thoguht I heard whales and every once in awhile you would hear a loud crash like moving ice. Iloved it. Jut left it on for about an hour during bedtime.

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