Researches at the University of Liverpool have discovered that the Caribbean sea produces a long, continuous note that’s too deep for human ears to detect, but can be “heard” from space. In a press release, the researches say that “in the midst of all the noise of the ocean, this region behaves like a whistle, which blows so loudly that it can be ‘heard’ from space in the form of oscillations of the Earth’s gravity field.”
Those oscillations, when enhanced, create the note of A-Flat. “We can compare the ocean activity in the Caribbean Sea to that of a whistle,” says Professor Chris Hughes, an expert in Sea Level Science at Liverpool.
“We can compare the ocean activity in the Caribbean Sea to that of a whistle. When you blow into a whistle, the jet of air becomes unstable and excites the resonant sound wave which fits into the whistle cavity. Because the whistle is open, the sound radiates out so you can hear it.”
The press release continues:
Similarly, an ocean current flowing through the Caribbean Sea becomes unstable and excites a resonance of a rather strange kind of ocean wave called a ‘Rossby wave’. Because the Caribbean Sea is partly open, this causes an exchange of water with the rest of the ocean which allows us to ‘hear’ the resonance using gravity measurements.
The discovery may help weather experts get an edge on mother nature. “This phenomenon can vary sea level by as much as 10 cm along the Colombian and Venezuelan coast,” Hughes says. “So understanding it can help predict the likelihood of coastal flooding.”
Read the full press release, complete with topographical maps, here.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy these related articles from our archive: