Microphones in Greenland record melting icebergs

An expedition of scientists and an artist is deploying underwater microphones in the ocean off Greenland to record and preserve the soundscape of melting icebergs.

Artist Siobhán McDonald will transform the recordings into an acoustic installation that explores humanity’s impact on the ocean.

The hydrophones will record sounds every hour for two years before being collected, aggregated for data and the recordings converted into an acoustic composition.

Instruments are lowered to different levels and temperatures to record earthquakes, landslides, wildlife, pollution and melting waters, creating an archive of the “memory of the ocean”.

“What you hear on the hydrophones is a snapshot in time,” Irish artist Siobhán McDonald said on Tuesday, speaking from the expedition ship. “It’s like a time capsule.”

The expedition deployed five hydrophone berths, and 12 berths in all, in the Davis Strait, an Arctic gateway between Greenland and Canada.

McDonald plans to work with a composer to incorporate the recordings, which will be collected in 2024, into an acoustic installation that will explore humanity’s impact on the ocean. He will also produce paintings, sculptures and other works based on the trip.

“I’m interested in listening to noise pollution. The sea level is rising and that will have an impact, I imagine, on the sound range and on all the biodiversity. Sound is fundamental in ocean and arctic animals. Hearing is essential for communication, reproduction, feeding and ultimately survival. It speaks to the need to pay attention to the pollution we cause in the ecosystems around us.” Funded by the Polar Program of the US National Science Foundation, the team of 21 researchers from Europe, the United United States and Canada has been at sea for four weeks studying sea salinity, whale migrations, ice floes and other phenomena.The material will be used in scientific analyzes and works of art, including paintings, sculptures and films.

The expedition experienced high winds, rain and snow and coincided with the calving of the Nuup Kangerlua Glacier. The researchers will return to the port of Nuuk in West Greenland on October 22.


The melting of the Greenland ice sheet

The initiative came amid mounting evidence that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet (billions of tonnes poured into the ocean) will lead to a sharp rise in sea levels.

The results of burning fossil fuels will cause a minimum rise of 27 cm (10.6 inches) in Greenland alone, according to a recent study in the journal Nature Climate Change. A separate study last year found that a significant part of the Greenland ice sheet was on the verge of tipping over, after which accelerated melting would be inevitable even if global warming stopped.

McDonald said he noticed less ice compared to his last visit to Greenland in 2017. past”.

Still, marine life appears to be adapting, he said. “One important thing we discovered is that here in the high Arctic, life continues to thrive. Although the seascape may seem barren, it is full of possibilities. Some of the hydrophones from another expedition came back looking like alien creatures coming out of the Greenland ocean. Lichens and tiny plants lived in symbiosis with the rusty surfaces.

McDonald’s also researched the release of methane from melting permafrost and the similarities between Irish bogs and the soil exposed by disappearing glaciers, which will be featured in an exhibition at Model, an arts center in County Sligo, Ireland. next year. .

The McDonald’s project has received support from the European Commission, the Arts Council of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, Monaghan County Council, Creative Ireland and non-profit organizations GLUON and Ocean Memory Project.

By Rory Carroll. Articles in English

Leave a Comment