Scientists Detect Gargantuan Sound Coming From The Caribbean Sea

Published June 23, 2016
Updated September 22, 2016

Scientists have recently discovered a strange noise emanating from the Caribbean Sea, a noise so low, so powerful, so vast that it can be detected in space.

Known as the “Rossby Whistle,” this noise (listen to a version raised many octaves so as to be audible to human ears above) was recently detected by scientists at the University of Liverpool and will soon be reported in a paper in Geophysical Research Letters.

To understand the Rossby Whistle, a noise so enormous that satellites orbiting Earth can pick up its gravitational presence, think about a whistle or a pipe or bottle with wind howling through it. Now image a whistle so large that it takes an ocean current’s air jet 120 days to get from one end of the whistle to the other.

And when the current does reach the end, it resonates at a pitch so low that it’s 30 octaves below the lowest notes you could play on a piano (it’s an A-flat, in case you were wondering).

So while the sound is low enough that neither the researchers nor any other human beings can actually hear it, they can detect its presence. But why would they even want to?

In the words of researcher Chris Hughes, “This phenomenon can vary sea level by as much as 10 cm along the Colombian and Venezuelan coast, so understanding it can help predict the likelihood of coastal flooding.”

And if 10 cm sounds negligibly small, the researchers can assure us that the probability of flood damage in certain areas will indeed “greatly increase” with even small sea level rises of this magnitude.

Furthermore, researchers contend that the Rossby Whistle — because it regulates the flow of the Caribbean Current, the precursor to the Gulf Stream — may also have major climate impact throughout the North Atlantic.


Next, listen to the strange sounds recently recorded at the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in all the world’s oceans. Then, check out seven of the most frighteningly bizarre ocean creatures.

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