Massive channels discovered under Antarctic ice shelf

By on October 11, 2013
A diagram showing the size of the channels compared with the Eiffel Tower and Tower Bridge (Credit: Anne Le Brocq)

A diagram showing the size of the channels compared with the Eiffel Tower and Tower Bridge (Credit: Anne Le Brocq)


British researchers in Antarctica discovered massive ice channels 250 meters high and hundreds of kilometers long beneath the continent’s ice shelf, according to a University of Exeter press release.

The researchers found the channels with satellite images and airborne radar. They hypothesize that meltwater entering the ocean beneath the ice shelf created the channels.

Scientists once thought the water flowed in a thin layer beneath the sheet, but the channels show that water flows similar to a river.

This revelation changes how researchers expect the ice sheet to behave in the future.

Researchers from the University of Exeter, Newcastle University, University of Bristol, University of Edinburg, the British Antarctic Survey and the University of York contributed to the study.

Image: A diagram showing the size of the channels compared with the Eiffel Tower and Tower Bridge (Credit: Anne Le Brocq)

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