Two-element acoustic array gives insight into ice-ocean interactions in Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen

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Glacierized fjords are dynamic regions, with variable oceanographic conditions and complex ice-ocean interactions, which are still poorly understood. Recent studies have shown that passive underwater acoustics offers new promising tools in this branch of polar research. Here, we present results from two field campaigns, conducted in summer 2013 and spring 2014. Several recordings with a bespoke two-hydrophone acoustic buoy were made in different parts of Hornsund Fjord, Spitsbergen in the vicinity of tidewater glaciers to study the directionality of underwater ambient noise. Representative segments of the data are used to illustrate the analyses, and determine the directions of sound sources by using the time differences of arrivals between two horizontally aligned, broadband hydrophones. The results reveal that low frequency noise (< 3 kHz) is radiated mostly from the ice cliffs, while high-frequency (> 3 kHz) noise directionality strongly depends on the distribution of floating glacial ice throughout the fjord. Changing rates of iceberg production as seen for example in field photographs and logs are, in turn, most likely linked to signal amplitudes for relevant directions. These findings demonstrate the potential offered by passive acoustics to study the dynamics of individual tidewater glaciers.

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Polish Polar Research

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