Scientists discovered a river longer than Thames beneath the Antarctic ice sheet

Antarctica’s George VI Ice Shelf [image credit: CIRES Colorado Univ.]

Interesting, but too many uncertainties at this time to reach any firm conclusions. The river system is ‘beneath kilometers of thick ice’.
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Scientists at Imperial College London, the University of Waterloo, Canada, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, and Newcastle University have discovered an unexpected river under the Antarctic ice sheet, says Tech Explorist.

The discovery of this 460km-long river shows the ice sheet’s base has more active water flow than previously thought, which could make it more susceptible to changes in climate.

The river is believed to affect the flow and melting of ice, contributing to the acceleration of ice loss during climate warming.

Co-author Professor Martin Siegert, from the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said: “When we first discovered lakes beneath the Antarctic ice a couple of decades ago, we thought they were isolated from each other. Now we are starting to understand there are whole systems interconnected by vast river networks, just as they might be if there weren’t thousands of meters of ice on top of them.

“The region where this study is based holds enough ice to raise the sea level globally by 4.3m. How much of this ice melts and how quickly it is linked to how slippery the base of the ice is. The newly discovered river system could strongly influence this process.”

However, because the summers are still too cold, there is not enough surface melting to form moulins in Antarctica. This led to the assumption that there was not a lot of water present at the foot of the Antarctic ice sheets.

The latest finding refutes this theory by demonstrating enough water from basal melt alone to form significant river systems beneath kilometers of thick ice.

Scientists made this discovery through a combination of airborne radar surveys. The surveys allowed them to look beneath the ice and modeling of the ice sheet hydrology.

The crew concentrated on a relatively unexplored and inaccessible region that contains ice from both the East and West Antarctic Ice Sheets and extends to the Weddell Sea.

Full article here.

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop

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November 5, 2022 at 12:13PM

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