Water and Ice

It’s been a pretty good winter in northern Nevada.  Lots of snow in the Sierras, and just enough cold to make you long for summer.  El Nino, so far, has meant that northern California and northern Nevada have been seeing a lot of snow, rain, and cloudy weather.

I spent late December and early January in Carson City, arriving just hours before the real stormy weather started.  We rarely saw the sun for the 3 weeks I was there – quite unusual – and temperatures stayed below freezing for more than a week.  I headed out to one of my favorite recording spots, the Carson River, and was pleased to see the river full from the recent snows in the Sierras.  I set up the mics right next to a small rapid in the fast-flowing river, and in addition to the sounds of the water, you can hear rocks tumbling under the waves:

A day after that recording, it started to snow and the temperature really dropped.  I waited more than a week before I headed out to record again, hoping to get some ice sounds.  Ice makes all kinds of neat groaning, growling, squeaking, tinkling kinds of sounds.  So I found a spot where the river was almost frozen over, and dropping in my hydrophone to see what the icy river sounded like.  I couldn’t get my mic under the ice without risking falling through, but I managed to get it in a small melt puddle on top of the ice.   No squeaking or groaning, but a nice variety of rattles, clicks, and tinkles as the ice shifted and shattered in the moving river.


I ran across an amazing ice recording awhile back from Antarctica, on Nature Soundmap:

It turns out that the crazy electronic sounds are made by Waddell seals under the ice!  Hard to imagine any animal could make those strange sounds:

Nature makes so many beautiful and amazing sounds, if we bother to listen.

Great Blue Heron tracks on the ice
Great Blue Heron tracks on the ice

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