New emotification of global warming: selling the sizzle of melting glaciers


“The sound of ice melting” Image by Paul Kos

From the American Institute of Physics, some research they lament doesn’t carry “the same emotional wallop as images” related to “climate trends”. Oh, darn.

Maybe they need to link up with artist Paul Kos whose performance art is seen at right. His emotive imagery and recordings of ice melting dates all the way back to 1970. Yes, regular man-made ice makes sounds while it melts too. According to the press release, this “research” was also done in a studio, rather than in situ. It’s all about the tiny bubbles escaping it seems, something I’ll bet Don Ho would appreciate.

Hmm, maybe they should team up with these guys and release an album: “City College of New York music professor Jonathan Perl teamed up with City University of New York climate professor Marco Tedesco to create musical soundscapes or “sonifications” that document the changes in the glacial ice in Greenland over the last 54 years.

Or maybe these guys: “Glaciers are dying, but they are not doing so quietly. The Glacier Music project of the Goethe Institutes in Tashkent and Almaty uses the sounds and powerful emotional image of melting glaciers as source of inspiration for festivals, open calls, concerts, sculpture, video and sound installations.“.

Emotifying ice melt has been a popular pastime with warmists, who have traditionally focused on the supposed plight of polar bears. However, the sound of melting ice is hardly anything new, explorers and the indigenous people of the Arctic have heard it for centuries. With 50 words for snow, I’m betting they even have a word for noisy melting ice since they’d hear it every spring.

Glaciers sizzle as they disappear into warmer water

The sounds of bubbles escaping from melting ice make underwater glacial fjords one of the loudest natural marine environments on earth

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 27, 2013 – Scientists have recorded and identified one of the most prominent sounds of a warming planet: the sizzle of glacier ice as it melts into the sea. The noise, caused by trapped air bubbles squirting out of the disappearing ice, could provide clues to the rate of glacier melt and help researchers better monitor the fast-changing polar environments. 

Geophysicist Erin Pettit, a researcher at the University of Alaska, had often heard popping, crackling sounds while out kayaking in the frigid northern waters. The sounds were also picked up by underwater microphones Pettit set up off the Alaskan coast, and at a much louder volume than above the surface.

“If you were underneath the water in a complete downpour, with the rain pounding the water, that’s one of the loudest natural ocean sounds out there,” she said. “In glacial fjords we record that level of sound almost continually.”

While Pettit suspected the din was caused by melting ice, she couldn’t confirm that hypothesis without a more controlled experiment. So she enlisted the help of Kevin Lee and Preston Wilson, acoustics experts from the University of Texas. Pettit sent the Texas researchers chunks of glacier, which they mounted in a tank of chilled water. Lee and Wilson recorded video and audio of the ice as it melted and were able to match sounds on the recording to the escape of bubbles from the ice.

“Most of the sound comes from the bubbles oscillating when they’re ejected,” Lee said. “A bubble when it is released from a nozzle or any orifice will naturally oscillate at a frequency that’s inversely proportional to the radius of the bubble,” he said, meaning the smaller the bubble, the higher the pitch. The researchers recorded sounds in the 1 – 3 kilohertz range, which is right in the middle of the frequencies humans hear.

Scientists have known for decades that the bubbles in glaciers form when snow crystals trap pockets of air and then get slowly squashed down under the weight of more snow. As the snow is compacted it turns into ice and the air bubbles become pressurized. The regular way the bubbles form means that they are evenly distributed throughout the ice, an important characteristic if you want to use the sound intensity of bubble squirts to measure ice melt rate.

While the symphony of melting ice might not carry the same emotional wallop as images, sound still has its own, sometimes very loud, story to tell. Pettit and Lee say they could imagine using hydrophone recordings in glacial fjords to monitor relative changes in glacier melting in response to one-time weather events, seasonal changes, and long-term climate trends. Because sound travels long distances underwater, recording microphones can be placed a safe distance from unstable ice sheets. The audio recordings would complement other measurements of ice melt, such as time-lapse photography and salinity readings.


Presentation 4aUW4, “Underwater sound radiated by bubbles released by melting glacier ice,” will take place on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, at 9:55 a.m. The abstract describing this work can be found here:


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Fizzy physics!

Going from pathetic to utter silliness.
The face of (post)modern science.


Add some cow burps and automobile exhaust pipes and we have the start of a symphony.

John Trigge

If a bubble escapes from melting ice in the Arctic and nobody hears it, did the ice relly melt?

John Trigge

‘relly’? I blame small virtual keyboards on tablets rather than my spelling skills.

UK Sceptic

Pop goes the weasel words.

Pamela Gray

I can imagine the next Christmas album filled with Arctic woe against a backdrop of whale songs. So which teary doe-eyed actress will they harness this time to gather our collective grief into the sound of money?


Lol – down in Newfoundland/Labrador in Canada the guys take boats out to icebergs and mine them for ice which they sell in their alcoholic beverages exactly for the sound of the ice popping and sizzling! Great ice cubes with the popping sound of nature at her best – that there is private enterprise my dear AGW deadbeats. Making icebergs pay – and they attract tourists by the thousands who also drink the iceberg beverages! That is what I call emotive responses done the Canadian way – fine drinks my friends! Lol! Who says we don’t have a sense of humor?

Tom J

I’m surprised they don’t make a soundtrack of a nuclear bomb going off and then they could use it for James Hansen’s Hiroshima standard.
Or, they could record the sounds of Manhattan during a busy workday and call it the Manhattan measurement.
Best yet they could record the sounds of a large bull …
Ok, I won’t go there.

Imagine a recording of polar bears drowning because CO2 melted the ice floe they were headed to. It’s not as bad as we thought!

The sizzle of melting glaciers? Ice sizzles when it melts? My artillery ears aren’t good enough any more to hear that. There is a before and after picture show of Alaskan glaciers circulating on Facebook. All the glaciers are gone in the after pictures. So, I suppose by around 2005-2006 (date of afters) all the glaciers in Alaska must have melted.

Huh? When I was in Alaska’s Glacier Bay a while back, the Park Rangers aboard the ship explained that the glacier ice was blue because the air had been squeezed from it.
So is this ice from the unsqueezed upper portions of the ice?
Like Bullwinkle, “I’m so confuuuuuuuzed!”

Bruce Cobb

rogerknights says:
December 1, 2013 at 11:48 am
Fizzy physics!
Otherwise known as “fizzics”.

Bruce Cobb

It’s The sound
Of Science


It’s not the CO2, it’s the other greenhouse gas, H2O, that causes the melting. I have proof:


This is a nice example of how a $ billion per day is being spent on climate.
The rent seeking will not stop until the hypesters are brought to account.


How bloody desperate can they get.


Stop anthropomorphising everything Anthony..
Ice has feelings too you know…….

Why stop at sizzling glaciers? Why not go ahead with exploding glaciers. Followed, of course, by the mandatory “it is worse than we thought” pronouncement and “more money is required” statement.


So… they’ve discovered cavitation?

Gerry, England

Recording the sound of rapid arctic ice regrowth and of record antarctic ice growth will be really useful too, surely?


But it IS worse than we thought…..
Perhaps even more so…


Try living on a lake. This thing bangs, crashes, pops, booms, echoes, reverberates, thumps, scrapes, roars, and any number of other onomatopoeic words. It freezes typically in early November and melts in April, so the emotional impact of melting ice is completely zero to me.

Jimmy Haigh.

Looking at the picture the ice could just as well be freezing as melting.

james griffin

One suspects they have never checked the daily sea ice graphs….around the same average as 79-08.


Should I laugh, or should I cry? All that I know is that for this year, 2013, winter has come one month early for southern Ontario, and our Spring in 2013 was about two months late. When will the global warming come? I am still waiting.

John F. Hultquist

Noah Zark says:
December 1, 2013 at 12:51 pm “ Huh?

Ice is compressed and the crystals flattened. Apparently, the thickness (thinness?) of the flattened crystal and its interaction with the wavelengths of light generates the color you see. A glaciologist from Austria published a short paper on this (20 years ago + or -) but I don’t remember much about it.
[Recall that folks have been talking about the CO2 in glacial ice for years. There is no reason to suspect all the “air” except CO2 would be squeezed out.]

Richard of NZ

And the evidence that melting ice in a cooling world sounds differently is ???????


Does water also make sounds when it freezes? If so, is there a way to measure which sound predominates during the course of the year? Only recording the sound of ice when it melts is like only recording the temperature when it goes up.


Has anyone ever noticed that when the alarmist show pictures of the melting glaciers, they will show an early 1900’s picture of the glacier and next picture will almost always be a post 1990 picture. Rarely will they show a series of pictures of the glacier which include, the 1920’s, 1930, and the 1940’s. The reason is that they want to overlook the melting that occurred in the 1920-1940’s. Most of the north american glaciers had significant melting during this time period with comparable volumes of melting to what is seen in more recent times. The rate amount of melting that occurred during the 1920’s to the 1940’s is somewhat contrary to the homogenized temp record from the early half of the 20th century.


Would those sounds be different than those made by an advancing glacier that is scraping the landscape down to bedrock ?


Oh my god, what idiots. This is about the silliest ”scientific discovery” I have ever heard of. Everyone who has ever been near a glacier calving in water is familiar with this sound. By the way it’s not so much a “fizzing” as an endless series of little pops. The gas bubbles in glacier ice are under considerable pressure and burst as the ice melts.
Incidentally this has nothing to do with the sounds that moving sea ice and lake ice makes. That is a quite remarkable variety of booming, groaning and roaring sounds. Sometimes they can be rather beautiful and they certainly have a lot more “emotional wallop” than the popping of glacier ice which is about as exciting as listening to a newly opened soda bottle. However You have to hang around in the cold until they happen to record them so they are probably less popular “research objects”.

Steve (Paris)

Santa may have to cancel xmas because of the melting ice
Be warned the video is hideous

Bill Illis

There’s nothing like the crunching sound of walking on snow when it gets below -25C. Or tires on snow when it is -40C.
Humans evolved for warm or even hot conditions, the savanna at the height of the noon-day Sun. Not for ice and snow and especially not for Arctic conditions. Our big brains which also developed for hot conditions just happened to be adaptable enough for the icy conditions.
Why are people so upset about some melting glaciers. What exactly lives on glaciers. Nothing.

Does the music resemble that of Moart, Haydn, Beethoven, Vivaldi, or an Corelli Veracini Marcello Carlo Farini Albinoni Locatelli Tartini Albicastro Vivaldi Geminiani Pergolesi Albinoni Paganini Torelli Boccherini Monfredini Trumpet concert Vivaldi,Marcello, Albinoni, Tartini,Cimarosa, etc Beethoven Violin Concerto – Perlman Beethoveh Violin Sonata (Anne-Sophie Mutter) Mozart two hours lullabies Mozart Horn Concertosy od these others?
[ ..”Concertosy od these others ” –> ” Concerts of these others” ? Mod]


alexwade says:
“Why stop at sizzling glaciers? Why not go ahead with exploding glaciers.”
Actually there are such things. Well, almost. There are “surging” glaciers that periodically start moving forward quite rapidly. I was lucky enough to visit the Perito Moreno glacier in Patagonia once while it was surging. The noise of the moving ice and the large chunks that constantly calve into Lago Argentino is very impressive. However You are not allowed to go close to the iglacier front since you might be hit by flying ice-splinters.
By the way, Perito Moreno is the glacier Patagonian Al Gore mentions as having retreated X kilometers in just a year or two. It always does that after a surge.

Making one sound that is similar to another isn’t science, it’s what special effects technicians do for a living. I can understand why they want to “emotify” the issue, though: strong emotional content engages the limbic system to the expense of the executive frontal cortex – ie histrionics turns off thinking.


“Santa may have to cancel xmas because of the melting ice”
It’s even worse. Soon he won’t have any reindeer. The Conservation authorities are planning to exterminate the reinderr on South Georgia that were introduced by norwegian whalers about 100
years ago, since the destroy the natural vegetation.
Santas reindeer are quite clearly South Georgian ones. Being in the Southern Hemisphere they are the only reindeer where the males have horns in December.

john robertson

I think Tiny Tim got the emotification down pat, with his”The Ice Caps Are Melting”.
And he did not need a government grant for his performance art.
These rent seekers do not even come close.
So once again proving government grant supported art is junk.


Actually You could argue that this is the sound of a healthy and vigorous glacier. It is only heard from tidewater glaciers that calve a lot of ice into the sea. Once a glacier has retreated onto dry land it just sits there and melts quietly with no fuss.


They didn’t know ice pops and crackles?! I hear it every time I put an ice cube in a hot drink. Talk about stating the obvious in research.

Peter Crawford

I am waiting for the fully re-mixed and remastered version on 11″ vinyl.
Until then I ain’t buying it.
Night-night beatlflies.

“Glaciers are dying, but they are not doing so quietly. The Glacier Music project of the Goethe Institutes in Tashkent and Almaty uses the sounds and powerful emotional image of melting glaciers as source of inspiration for festivals, open calls, concerts, sculpture, video and sound installations. The project actively promotes the exchange between science and arts and creates awareness about the human-induced deterioration of our pristine environment. The project also reaches out to students through tailored education materials and exhibitions.”
I would not go so far as to call this “educational material.”

Tom J

Why can’t they be truthful (ok, I know that’s a silly rhetorical question to pose to alarmists) and just position a cash register in the midsts of those microphones? The expected outcome is the same isn’t it?
Ka ching, ka ching, ka ching…

Steve Oregon

Using the word sizzle to describe the sound of melting ice is like using the word Hendrix to describe the Sound of Music.
siz·zle (szl)
intr.v. siz·zled, siz·zling, siz·zles
1. To make the hissing sound characteristic of frying fat.
2. To seethe with anger or indignation.
3. To be very hot: a summer day that sizzled.
Pettit’s mouth sizzled as he shut his pie hole.

Lew Skannen

OK. So we can now add ‘noise pollution’ to the ever expanding list of things caused by ‘climate change’.


CodeTech says:
December 1, 2013 at 1:50 pm
So true, can attest to this myself. One small but very deep lake, Trout Lake, Ontario makes incredible noises in the winter. Best heard in still cold conditions.


Wasn’t it the bubbles from the Vostok ice cores that showed that co2 rise followed temperature rise?
We are dealing with a cargo cult style horsesh** science.
[Language. You know the rules. Mod]


I hope these guys are reading this. You insist on the science, here it is.

….The record indicates that warmer temperatures were the norm in the earlier part of the past 4000 years, including century-long intervals nearly 1°C warmer than the present decade (2001–2010). Therefore, we conclude that the current decadal mean temperature in Greenland has not exceeded the envelope of natural variability over the past 4000 years, a period that seems to include part of the Holocene…..
[Takuro Kobashi et. al.]
An aerial view of 80 years of climate-related glacier fluctuations in southeast Greenland
…………the recent retreat was matched in its vigour during a period of warming in the 1930s with comparable increases in air temperature. We show that many land-terminating glaciers underwent a more rapid retreat in the 1930s than in the 2000s,……
[Anders A. Bjørk et. al. – 20 April 2012]
Greenland warming of 1920–1930 and 1995–2005
“…the rate of warming in 1920–1930 was about 50% higher than that in 1995–2005….”
[Petr Chylek et. al. – 20 June 2006]
Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Air Temperature Variability: 1840–2007
“…The annual whole ice sheet 1919–32 warming trend is 33% greater in magnitude than the 1994–2007 warming….”
[Jason E. Box et. al. – 2009]
Extending Greenland temperature records into the late eighteenth century
“…The warmest year in the extended Greenland temperature record is 1941, while the 1930s and 1940s are the warmest decades….”
[B. M. Vinther et. al. – 6 June 2006 [pdf]]
The State of the West Greenland Current up to 1944
“….It is found that warmer conditions existed during the decade of 1880, followed by a colder period up to about 1920, when the present warm period began. The peak of the present warm period appears to have been reached in the middle 1930’s,…..”
[M. J. Dunbar – 1946]
A period of warm winters in Western Greenland and the temperature see-saw between Western Greenland and Central Europe
Particulars are given regarding the big rise of winter temperatures in Greenland and its more oceanic climate during the last fifteen years….
Dr. F. Loewe – 1937


Consequences of long-distance swimming and travel over deep-water pack ice for a female polar bear during a year of extreme sea ice retreat
….Between an initial capture in late August and a recapture in late October 2008, a radio-collared adult female polar bear in the Beaufort Sea made a continuous swim of 687 km over 9 days and then intermittently swam and walked on the sea ice surface an additional 1,800 km…..The extraordinary long distance swimming ability of polar bears, which we confirm here, may help them cope with reduced Arctic sea ice……
Polar bear cubs may reduce chilling from icy water by sitting on mother’s back
We describe an observation of a polar bear cub on its mother’s back while the mother was swimming among ice floes in Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic. Similar observations are to our knowledge not earlier described in the scientific literature. We point out that this behaviour minimize exposure to cold water and hence significantly may reduce chilling of the cub….


The Early Twentieth-Century Warming in the Arctic—A Possible Mechanism
The huge warming of the Arctic that started in the early 1920s and lasted for almost two decades is one of the most spectacular climate events of the twentieth century. During the peak period 1930–40, the annually averaged temperature anomaly for the area 60°–90°N amounted to some 1.7°C…..;2
The regime shift of the 1920s and 1930s in the North Atlantic
During the 1920s and 1930s, there was a dramatic warming of the northern North Atlantic Ocean. Warmer-than-normal sea temperatures, reduced sea ice conditions and enhanced Atlantic inflow in northern regions continued through to the 1950s and 1960s, with the timing of the decline to colder temperatures varying with location. Ecosystem changes associated with the warm period included a general northward movement of fish……
Early 20th century Arctic warming in upper-air data
Between around 1915 and 1945, Arctic surface air temperatures increased by about 1.8°C. Understanding this rapid warming, its possible feedbacks and underlying causes, is vital in order to better asses the current and future climate changes in the Arctic.
Monthly Weather Review October 10, 1922.
The Arctic seems to be warming up. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explores who sail the seas about Spitsbergen and the eastern Arctic, all point to a radical change in climatic conditions, and hitherto unheard-of high temperatures in that part of the earth’s surface….
In August, 1922, the Norwegian Department of Commerce sent an expedition to Spitsbergen and Bear Island under Dr. Adolf Hoel, lecturer on geology at the University of Christiania. The oceanographic observations (reported that) Ice conditions were exceptional. In fact, so little ice has never before been noted. The expedition all but established a record, sailing as far north as 81o 29′ in ice-free water. This is the farthest north ever reached with modern oceanographic apparatus…..”
Examiner (Launceston, Tas. – 25 April 1939
…It has been noted that year by year, for the past two decades, the fringe of the Polar icepack has been creeping northward in the Barents Sea. As compared with the year 1900, the total ice surface of this body of water has decreased by twenty per cent. Various expeditions have discovered that warmth-loving species of fish have migrated in great shoals to waters farther north than they had ever been seen before….
Average arctic temperatures increased at almost twice the global average rate in the past 100 years. Arctic temperatures have high decadal variability, and a warm period was also observed from 1925 to 1945.

PRESS RECORD. Oh never mind.

Peter Miller

What we have to realise is that this sizzling ice is a totally new phenomenon that has never before happened in our planet’s history.
Mannian Mathematics is the only known means by which this phenomenon can be explained in terms of man made climate change and a liberal sprinkling of fairy dust.
Bottom line: Does anyone care?