Radar reveals impressive canyons under Antarctic ice
Radar reveals impressive canyons under Antarctic ice
Credit University of Northumbria at Newcastle
26 May, 2018, 23:40
"[If] climate conditions change in Antarctica, we might expect the ice in these troughs to flow a lot faster towards the sea".
The two other troughs are equally vast.
The area under the ice in Antarctica is one of the last unexplored spots in the world, and it's where a team of scientists from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway have just found three enormous canyons on radar.
The Patuxent Trough measures over nine miles (15 km) wide and runs for some 185 miles (300 km), while the Offset Rift basin is 18 miles (30 km) wide and runs 93 miles (150 km) beneath the ice shelf. And all of this relief is buried under many hundreds of metres of ice.
To reach the bottom of the largest trench, the Foundation Trough, you would need to drill through 1.2 miles (two kilometres) of solid ice.
Researchers have actually found 3 huge canyons in among the last locations to be checked out in the world - under the ice at the South Pole.
This divide can be thought of as a kind of watershed.
The information gathered in this project is important not only for looking forward and determining what it might mean in light of global warming, but also for looking back at the evolution of Antarctica.
The West Antarctic ice divide will then make a major shift, creating channels for gushing melted ice to stream down from the center of Antarctica to its boundaries, straight into the oceans worldwide.
"By mapping these deep troughs and mountain ranges we have therefore added a key piece of the puzzle to help understand how the East Antarctic Ice Sheet may have responded to past change and how it may do so in the future. But the mountains we've found effectively put a plug in that bottleneck".
The Antarctic ice sheets are supposed to keep losing ice as the global warming keeps on increasing and this phenomenon is occurring, as we speak, with the ice platforms that are bordering the outer parts of the Eastern and Western ice sheets.
The paper is one of the first observations at the European Space Agency's project called PolarGAP.
Researchers studying Antarctica haven't come up with good news for a while, and it seems that this is the place where they discover the most worrisome things about our planet.
The only way to fill this "data hole" is to fly sensors on planes instead. It will likewise map the shape of the basement rock.
"Remarkably, the South Pole region is one of the least understood frontiers in the whole of Antarctica", said PolarGAP's principal investigator, Dr Fausto Ferraccioli from BAS. "Our new aerogeophysical data will also enable new research into the geological processes that created the mountains and basins before the Antarctic ice sheet itself was born".
It is possible the troughs spotted under today's ice sheet were removed throughout a previous glacial period when the ice over the continent was set up in an extremely various method.
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