Under the ice of Antarctica, things happen that you would never suspect. Some time ago, researchers discovered lakes there. Now, today, they reveal to us that a river runs several hundreds of kilometers long. And it could have unfortunate consequences for melting ice in the context of global warming.
A few decades ago, researchers discovered it hiding under the lakes Antarctic Ice Sheet. Gradually they realized that these lakes were interconnected. Connected by rivers, sometimes in size. Like this river which is about 460 kilometers long International team Just updated. Four hundred and sixty kilometers is slightly less than Karon and its 529 kilometers. More than the Thames (United Kingdom) and its 346 kilometers.
Importantly, the researchers show that, after all, water collects at the base of this river Close up snowClose up snow Antarctica, an area the size of Germany and France combined. What does the bottom of this iceberg refer to a DebtDebt Water is more active than scientists previously thought. It might make her more sensitive Climate changes. So when you know that it’s all played out in an area that retains enough ice to raise sea levels by more than four meters…
Remember that water can build up underneath Ice bubbles In two ways. In L’ArcticArcticFor example, the surface melts strongly in summer. Large volumes of water then reach down through the cracks. In Antarctica, summers are very cold. This is why the researchers thought that there was little water hidden under the ice. Even though MeltingMelting From the foundation – occurs HeatHeat Natural EarthEarth And this FrictionFriction As the snow moves – a little may form.
The missing link in snowmelt patterns
But radar readings taken by this team tell a different story. Basement cast iron is much larger than scientists imagined. However, by understanding why the ice melts, models can better predict the melt. Global warmingGlobal warming. “This discovery may The missing linkThe missing link Among our samples »Christine Dow, a researcher at the University of Waterloo (Canada), comments publicationImperial College London (UK).
“Without taking into account the influence of these river systems, we can greatly underestimate how quickly Antarctica will melt. » The newly discovered river empties into a lower sea Ice platformIce platform Floating. l’Clean water Warm water from the river is lifted from the pack ice and melts from below. Given the river’s length, which reaches hundreds of kilometers inland, the process may be more widespread than researchers thought.
Scientists also predict that with global warming and warmer summers in the future, surface melting will become sufficient to drain water beneath the ice sheet. with significant impacts on the river systems that lurk there. and the acceleration of snowmelt. Not to mention potential loops feedbackfeedback – More water causes more friction and more basement melting – which will further amplify the phenomenon. To find out for sure, researchers will look for more data over large areas of Antarctica.
Unknown Rivers Discovered Under Antarctic Ice Sheets
In the 1960s, satellite and airborne radar systems revealed the existence of many lakes hundreds of meters deep beneath Antarctic ice sheets. Scientists previously thought that these biological labs were isolated, had primitive life forms, and lived in extreme conditions.
In a letter to the press Nature, a group of British researchers questions this fact, and claims to have discovered a network of rivers connecting different water bodies. According to them, some sub-glacial confluences are as wide as the Thames!
Article by Christophe O’Leary published on 04/20/2006
Sub-glacial lakes that intrigue and inspire
First, we thought there was water LiquidLiquid Impossible under the glaciers of Antarctica: it was too cold. In the 1960s, radar images proved otherwise, showing at least 150 lakes teetering in the depths. The largest of them, 250 kilometers long and 40 kilometers wide: Lake Vostok; It is said to be between 15 and 20 million years old.
Since the discovery of these sub-glacial lakes, many scientists have drilled into the ice and taken water samples in hopes of finding life forms there. If, in fact, these expanses were isolated – as we thought until then – and evolved independently of each other and sheltered from the atmosphere, who knows what we would find there? Are life forms living in extreme conditions similar to those in Europa’s frozen seas?
Vast rivers like the Thames…
The most recent research was conducted by Nerc scientists (Natural Environment Research Council), who scanned Antarctica using satellites ERS-2ERS-2 in’ESAESA. Compared to previous maps, the analyzes revealed variations in the height of the snow, which were only similar Water movementsSo a Connection system : ” It was a big surprise to find that the entire 30 km to 10 km region had moved vertically. The only possible explanation is water circulation. Professor Wingham explains.
British researchers, on a regular basis, the massesthe masses Water moves from one lake to another by borrowing rivers that can reach the size of the Thames. Generally, these MovementsMovements But moderate, when under a lake PressurePressureThis can cause a subglacial flood that jumps like a cork and travels for miles.
So the various lakes that run beneath Antarctica’s glaciers are not as isolated as previously thought, and can be seen taking samples. PollutionPollution of the entire network. Finally, in the past, some of these lakes may have flowed into the ocean.