In Antarctica found the entire planet at risk

Rodiano Bonacci
Mag 26, 2018

The Patuxent Trough is more than 300 kilometers long and over 15 kilometers wide, while the Offset Rift Basin is 150 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide.

In the event that climate change radically melts the ice sheets in the future, the canyons have direct control on how fast the ice could flow between the East and West Antarctic ice sheets and subsequently from the center of the continent to the seas.

A series of mountain ranges divide east and west in Antarctica.

"These troughs channelise ice from the centre of the continent, taking it towards the coast", Dr Winter said.

"If the ice sheet thins or retreats, these topographically controlled corridors could facilitate enhanced flow of ice farther inland, and could lead to the west Antarctic ice divide moving", lead study author Kate Winter, a researcher at Northumbria University in England, said in a statement. And all of this relief is buried under many hundreds of metres of ice.

To obtain to the flooring of Structure Trough, for instance, you would have to drill through over 2km of ice cover.

The Allan Hills fall within a region called the Transantarctic Mountains, whose steep, uneven topography was long thought to be too unstable to contain deep, ancient ice of this kind. Ice streams away on either side, through the channels - to the Weddell Sea in the east and the Ross Sea in the west. A research team from Princeton discovered tiny pieces of ice last year, which date back to near about 2.7 million years ago on Antarctica. "But the mountains we've found effectively put a plug in that bottleneck".

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.

This was funded in large part by the European Space Agency (Esa), which wanted to collect measurements over an area of planet that its satellites can not see (spacecraft generally only fly up to about 83 degrees in latitude). This project uses planes equipped with a radar over the places where satellites can not see, and it gathers data.

The only way to gather data on the canyons hidden beneath the ice was to use aircrafts fitted with sensors. It will likewise map the shape of the basement rock. These new PolarGAP data give us both insights into how the landscape beneath the ice influences present ice flow, and a better understanding of how the parts of the great Antarctic ice sheets near to South Pole can, and cannot, evolve in response to glaciological change around their margins. Among the possibilities they will consider is whether the recently discovered canyons were created during a previous glacial period when the ice configuration was much different than it is today.

"Our new aerogeophysical data will... enable new research into the geological processes that created the mountains and basins before the Antarctic ice sheet itself was born".

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