Apr 20, 2017 12:11 PM EDT
The latest survey in Antarctica has found the meltwater is more widespread than previously thought. The meltwater that streams across the ice would potentially trigger the ice-shelf collapse and the rising of sea level.
The first continent-wide survey of the Antarctica was conducted by a team of scientist led by Jonathan Kingslake, Assistant Professor of the Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Columbia. The survey found that the meltwater in Antarctica has formed melt ponds. This could trigger the ice-shelf collapse and later the increase in the sea level. Professor Kingslake has submitted his research to Nature journal, which was published on April 19, 2017.
Antarctic explorers and scientists have documented the melt streams in the Antarctica since the early 20th century. Based on the data, and the aerial photography from 1947 and Satelite imagery since 1973, Professor Kingslake and team has found the drainage of the water stream in the Antarctica has persisted for the past decades. The water stream was transported from the grounded ice onto and across ice shelves.
"This is not in the future," Professor Kingslake said regarding the water stream in Antarctica as quoted by Phys.org. "This is widespread now, and has been for decades."
In the recent findings, many of the new drainages of meltwater in Antarctica started near the mountains which later poked through the glaciers. Sometimes, the drainage also occurred in the areas where snow was washed away by the powerful wind.
Previously, a survey from NASA in February at the Antarctica's Larsen Ice Shelf showed a similar result, as two large sections of the ice shelf have collapsed in the past three decades. Larsen Ice Shelf is located at the fastest-warming place on the northeastern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Watch the report from NASA regarding the disappearance of Arctic sea ice below: