May 15, 2017 06:03 AM EDT
A new study shows that 1.8-kilometer landforms lie hidden beneath the Antarctic ice sheet could be contributing to the thinning of the ice.The study also attributes the supersized subglacial masses to the ongoing problem.
In an article published in Mail Online, the ancient ice sheets in the Scandinavia and North America area that have long since retreated left behind some landforms for the scientists to study and learn how they have impacted the ice sheets. But the problem is that such formations were still not observed under the modern day ice sheets until now.
A team of scientists has discovered an active hydrological system below the Antarctic ice sheet. Moreover, their study detailed the discovery and they revealed that the landforms under Antarctica are five times larger of those observed in the Scandinavia and North America.
In an article published in Live Science, subglacial conduits are tunnels underneath large ice sheets that funnel meltwater forwards the ocean. Conduits become wider near the ocean. Scientists found out that these wider tunnels accumulate sediments. Additionally, sediment that builds up over millennia could create a giant sediment ridges which are about the size of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The researchers used a satellite data and ice-penetrating radar to find the evidence of sediment ridges cutting into the Antarctic ice sheets. These cuts from below would leave deep scars that would weaken the ice. Moreover, these scars will form ice-shelf channels that are up to half as thing as an uncut ice that would be more susceptible to melting from the warmer ocean. Previously, the researchers and other scientists had an initial idea that the ice-shelf channels were carved as ice melts from the warmer ocean waters.
Study's lead author Reinhard Drews said that their new study shows that ice-shelf channels can already be initiated on land. In addition, the size of the channels in the ice sheets depends on sedimentation process occurring over hundred to thousands year.
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