Soundings from Antarctica

Fantastic broadcast from BBC Radio 4, featuring Chris Watson’s recordings in Antarctica.

What strikes most people when they first arrive in Antarctica is the quiet . “It’s so quiet; its the only place in the world that you can actually hear Geology happening; all these processes that you’re schooled to think take thousands and thousands of years, the movement of glaciers and the shifting of rocks … And that’s an amazing experience that process of the landscape changing” says Jeff Wilson, a Director on the BBC series Frozen Planet. And the sounds of ‘geology happening’ are captured in the first of a new series of NATURE by wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson. The sounds of the ice are astonishing; from the huge, powerful grinding and creaking sounds as glaciers calve or ice sheets buckle under pressure, to the delicate sounds of water lapping under thin sheets of sea ice or the tinkling sounds produced when fine needle-like ice crystals move in a breeze of volcanic gases inside an ice cave at the base of Erebus, Antarctica’s most active volcano.

With contributions from some the team who worked on the BBC series, Frozen Planet, NATURE presents a journey in sound across this frozen landscape. Whilst above the ice, the landscape is quiet, below the ice the underwater world is full of sound; for example, Orcas (killer whales) use pulses of sound to navigate rather like bats and produce and squeaks and whistles to communicate with one another over vast distances, whilst Weddell seals produce the most hauntingly beautiful ascending and descending tones. Antarctica – frozen landscape, and surprising, mesmerizing, powerful and haunting soundscape.

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