Antarctica has hidden mountain ranges and subglacial valleys that have been discovered by researchers- Technology News, Firstpost

Researchers have discovered mountain ranges and three deep subglacial deep valleys hidden under ice of Antarctica .

  Ice on the continent of Antarctica. AFP

Ice on the continent of Antarctica. AFP

The findings, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters are the first to emerge from extensive ice penetrating radar data collected in Antarctica as part of the PolarGAP project of the European Space Agency.

Although there is extensive satellite data that helps to obtain images of the surface of the Earth and its deep interior, there was a gap around the area of ​​the South Pole, which is not covered by satellites due to the inclination of its orbits.

The PolarGAP project was therefore designed to fill the gap in the coverage of South Polar satellite data and in particular to acquire the missing severity data.

Radar data was also collected in the air to allow mapping of the topography of the bedrock hidden beneath the ice sheet. The data reveal that the topography that controls how fast the ice flows between the ice sheets of East and West Antarctica.

The team, led by researchers from the University of Northumbria in the United Kingdom, has mapped for the first time three vast subglacial valleys in West Antarctica.

These valleys could be important in the future as they help channel the flow of ice from the center of the continent to the coast.

If climate change causes the ice sheet to be reduced, these valleys could increase the speed at which ice flows from the center of Antarctica to the sea, raising global sea levels .

The largest valley, known as the Trough Foundation, is more than 350 kilometers long and 35 kilometers wide. Its length is equivalent to the distance from London to Manchester, while its width is more than one and a half times the length of Manhattan Island in New York.

The other two channels are equally vast. Patuxent Trough is more than 300 kilometers long and more than 15 kilometers wide, while Offset Rift Basin is 150 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide.

"As there were gaps in the satellite data around the South Pole, no one knew exactly what was there, so we are delighted to be able to publish the first findings of the PolarGAP project," Kate Winter, a researcher at Northumbria University.

"We now understand that the mountainous region is avoiding the eastern ice Antarctica flows through West Antarctica to the coast, and we have also discovered three subglacial valleys in West Antarctica that could be important in the future," said Winter.

"If the ice sheet thinens or recedes, these topographically controlled corridors could facilitate the improved flow of ice inland, and could lead to the division of ice from the moving Antarctic West," he said.

"This, in turn, would increase the speed and speed at which the ice flows in the center of Antarctica to its edges, leading to an increase in global sea levels," he added.

"By mapping these deep valleys and mountain ranges, we have added a key piece of the puzzle to help understand how the East Antarctic Ice Sheet may have responded to the change of the past and how it may do so in the future," Fausto Ferraccioli, researcher main project of the PolarGAP project of the European Space Agency.

"Our new aerogeophysical data will also allow new research into the geological processes that created the mountains and basins before the very Antarctic ice sheet was born," said Ferraccioli.


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