GEOGRAPHY

There is a water world under the ice in Antarctica


The research team camps on the Whelanes Ice Flow in West Antarctica. Image credit: Kerry Key

Researchers have long suspected that there may be groundwater buried beneath antarctica’s ice surface, but until now there has been no conclusive evidence to confirm this idea.

Recently, in a study published in Science, scientists made a “giant nuclear magnetic resonance” for Antarctica and mapped for the first time parts of the area under the ice sheet. The study points out that there is a lot of water hidden under the ice surface of Antarctica.

Inside Antarctica’s ice sheet, relatively fast-moving ice flows through ice corridors toward the ocean. Chloe Gustafson of the University of California, San Diego, said: “Ice flows are responsible for bringing 90 percent of Antarctica’s ice to its edge, so they are important for understanding how Antarctica’s ice eventually enters the ocean.” ”

“It’s a bit like a water slide. If there is water at the bottom of the ice stream, it can go very fast, but if there is no water there, it can’t go as fast. She said. Liquid water is inseparable from moving ice, because water can play a lubricating role and form a flat surface.

Researchers have known that there may be shallow pools between the ice flow and the ground, often a few millimeters to a few meters deep. But Gustafson and colleagues wondered if there was a larger reservoir of flowing water beneath the Whelans Ice Flow in west Antarctica.

By measuring seismic activity and electromagnetic fields, the team found a layer of thousand-meter-thick sediment that contained a mixture of fresh glacial water and ancient seawater. Its water content is more than 10 times that of shallow pools below the ice flow, and the water seems to flow between deep and shallow parts.

This clear link suggests that groundwater may be important for controlling the flow rate of ice flows, a process that is critical to predicting the impact of climate change on sea levels.

Gustafson said: “The entire Antarctic ice sheet contains enough water to cause about 57 meters of sea level rise. Ultimately, we want to understand how quickly ice flows into the ocean from the continent and its impact on sea level rise. (Source: China Science Daily Wang Fang)

Related paper information:https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abm3301



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