'Pipeline' found under Antarctica ice sheet extends 460 km and accelerates melting

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Under the ice sheet of Antarctica 'pipeline' found: stretches 460 km and accelerates melting

Scientists had to drill into the ice sheet to discover that beneath it is a whole system of underwater rivers that are interconnected.

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The Antarctic glacier is still little explored – the depths of massive ice are difficult places to study and explore. However, in the past few years, scientists have managed to draw a picture of the deep water channels that connect the underwater lakes of Antarctica, writes New Atlas.

According to the co-author of the new study, Professor Martin Siegert from Imperial College London, two decades ago, when scientists first discovered lakes under the ice of Antarctica, they believed that these reservoirs were isolated from each other. A new study proves that entire systems are hidden under the glacier, which are interconnected by extensive river networks.

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In the new study, scientists used ice sheet hydrology modeling and aerial photography, and drilled through an Antarctic ice block to see a narrow stream deep in the glacier.

The study shows that the river stretches for 460 kilometers and essentially runs through the entire ice sheet, emptying into the sea at certain points under the floating ice shelf. Scientists have discovered that this “pipeline” under the ice carries huge amounts of fresh water through the base of the ice sheet under high pressure, which can be a problem.

Pipeline found under Antarctic ice sheet: extending 460 km and accelerates melting


According to study co-author Dr Christine Doe of the University of Waterloo, thanks to satellite imagery, scientists already know which the regions of Antarctica are suffering the most and are losing ice. Until that moment, however, researchers did not understand why this was happening. Apparently, a new discovery could be the missing piece of the puzzle.

Researchers believe that scientists may have previously underestimated the rate of melting of the system, because the analysis did not take into account the now discovered “pipeline” through the Antarctic ice sheet.Co-author of the study, Dr. Neil Ross from Newcastle University, also added that earlier scientists only studied the edges of the ice sheets and their interaction with the ocean waters, but no one took into account the whole system of underwater rivers of the glacier. The new data will allow scientists to better understand the process of ice melting, taking into account the entire system – the ice sheet, the ocean and fresh water.