Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Antarctic Expedition 2009
March 6 - April 15, 2009
Northwestern Weddell Sea

Life on the ship

Sounds of a Moving Ship
March 17, 2009

The walls of the Palmer are insulated against the cold, but a variety of sounds pervade. The constant low rumble of the ship’s engines slowly transitions from a distinct sound to background noise as our ears adjust. A-frames and winches, used for instrument deployments, whine as they hoist heavy loads in and out of the water. The bathymetric sonar chirps about every ten seconds to measure the depth of the seafloor. In the laboratory, freezers hum and sigh. Throughout the ship, walkie-talkies crackle. Once a week, the alarm bell rings for a fire drill or abandon ship drill.

Every so often, a muffled clang reverberates through the mess hall as the ship runs over a large chunk of ice.

Today, a new sound presented itself: the iceberg calved. At first it sounded like distant thunder. A series of cracks and rumbles was followed by splashing and waves. Massive chunks of ice, some greater than 10 meters across, fell into the water, then rose to the surface and further broke apart.

With all of the noise, it seems surprising that people can sleep; however, sounds drown themselves out into white noise before too long.

All of the berths are on higher levels than the main deck, which helps reduce the noise. Also, sleep is easier after so many continuous days of hard work.

— Amanda Kahn




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IceburgExpedition Homepage
Find out why our scientists and equipment are in the Antarctic.

Unmanned Aerial VehicleDaily Expedition Logs
Find out what the scientists are doing daily out in the antarctic.

ROV PhantomExpedition Equipment
A detailed look and description of the equipment used on this cruise.

Ken SmithResearch Team
Meet and see photos of the scientists on this cruise.

Google EarthFollow the ship's voyage
A link to the expedition's voyage on Google Earth.

phytoplanktonExploratorium's Ice Stories
Antarctica's Iceberg Phytoplankton

Additional Links