Antarctic Thesaurus

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r t u v w x y z

Scott  sea ice  sea levels  snow petrel  sound



There is no other music like the toneless music of millions of years of accumulated silence, through which come bars of unearthly colours. There is no need for ears to hear the fugues played on this ice organ. Here nature has set aside for man a domain of beauty and inspiration such as he cannot know elsewhere on this planet.

Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd (1947), cited in Kural, 2006




'Mostly the valley seems silent,

with only a background hiss of pink noise

to accompany the intrusive sounds

of my body, my footsteps.

No bird or animal noises,

only occasional ice snaps

and explosive retorts

from the splintering glacial face

and the lakes of seepage

frozen from the melt.'

Phil Dadson Antarctica, January 2003




Pump Sounds

The most amazing sound in Antarctica is the sound of silence. On a calm day out on the glacier far from McMurdo I paused and noticed the quiet. No sounds at all. As my brain adjusted to the quiet I began to hear a pulsing, throbbing beat. The sounds of pumps and machinery. My internal pumps. The blood rushing through my carotid artery breaking into turbulence and generating sounds to the beat of my heart.

The Wind

Roaring, continuous roaring like the sound of a distant jet engine. I am looking out the library window on the top floor of the Crary Science Lab during a blizzard and the wind is not only filling the building with sound as it tumbles over the building, it is also vibrating the entire building. I can feel the vibration through my hands as I lean on the window ledge. Outside, the roaring noise is louder, I look up and see that there are 30 different wires doing a wild dance in the wind, shedding vortices which reach my ear as sound. A 30 string wind harp at full volume in 50 mph (75 kph) winds. In a tent the taught fabric snaps and hums. The vibration of the tent fabric comes up through the tent floor, through my foam pads and into my body. I'm listening to the sound of the storm with my whole body. I am intensely interested in the sounds because if my tent is destroyed I am in deep trouble.

Paul Doherty, From McMurdo to the Pole. December 28, 2001

Sounds Like Antarctica: Deep Listening
© The Exploratorium