A strange, whistle-like sound is being emitted from the Caribbean Sea, and the scientists behind its discovery are not sure of its origin. The paper documenting the possible nature of the sound is published in Geophysical Research Letters.
Maybe, a deep-sea monster is making itself known to the world. Or, maybe, the answer is of a more scientifically-credible nature. As of now, we cannot know for sure. We cannot hear it, but researchers University of Liverpool have unexpectedly detected it when they were looking for something else altogether. What we do know is that no such sound has been heard of before.
The queer discovery was made when the team of scientists were examining sea level and pressure in the Caribbean Sea to find hints of possible future climate change effects. Amidst their research, they spotted something strange: pressure oscillations – that apparently made no sense – emanating from the Caribbean basin. To investigate the origin of this weird happening, they verified water level and pressure data gathered from the particular sea between 1958 and 2013. They also looked into data gleaned from tide gauges and satellites to obtain information pertaining to gravity in that region.
They were eventually able to confirm the presence of the strange pressure oscillations. They have interpreted them as producing a low noise that is very much like a whistle.
The following video ‘depicts’ how the sound would sound like if we were able to hear it:-
Interestingly, the sound is powerful enough such that its effects can be measured in space by making use of the oscillations occurring in the gravity field of our planet.
Is it, or is it not, coming from a monster-like being of the sea?!
No matter how this ‘explanation’ might sound exciting, the scientists have a more believable theory: the sound might be the result of a big wave called the Rossby wave which is known to propagate across the ocean in a westward direction but which has seemingly disappeared for 120 days into the ocean; this disappearance was nicknamed the Rossby wormhole. According to experts, this wave is still interacting with the floor of the sea, probably resulting into a whistle-like noise.
“We can compare the ocean activity in the Caribbean Sea to that of a whistle,” explains Chris Hughes one of the researchers, in a statement to Gizmodo. “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.”
“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.”
This whistling would be of low pitch because the Caribbean is much bigger than your regular whistle.
This phenomenon has now been called the Rossby Whistle.
Gaining a better understanding of the Rossby Whistle is highly desired as it is hoped that questions relating to the response of the seas to climate variations might be answered.
“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,” said Hughes.